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IFE hosts key discussion workshop on future of fire risk assessments

27 September 2021

THE INSTITUTION of Fire Engineers (IFE) recently hosted a successful workshop bringing together key stakeholders from the sector and Government to focus on the theme of the future of fire risk assessments.

The purpose of the workshop was to discuss the implementation of the Fire Safety Act 2021 and understand and debate the implications for practitioners and end users alike. The specific objectives were to ensure a mutual awareness of the range of implementation issues across all attendees, identify the most pressing issues and, where possible, identify actions required to address the pressing issues.

Representatives from the Home Office, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, the Health and Safety Executive/Building Safety Regulator, the National Fire Chiefs Council, the Scottish Government, the Fire Sector Federation, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, the Fire Protection Association, the Institute of Fire Protection Officers and the Institute of Fire Safety Managers joined IFE personnel and volunteers to share their understanding of the new legislation and how it can be implemented in an effective and efficient way.

Peter Wilkinson, technical director at the IFE, commented: “With the imminent introduction of the Fire Safety Act 2021, it was key that we gathered individuals from across the sector and Government to truly understand and consider what this means for us all, the public and those responsible for conducting fire risk assessments. It’s perfectly clear that the new legislation will place additional duties on ‘Responsible Persons’ as well as extend the remit of a fire risk assessment for all building types.”

Wilkinson continued: “We gained some real clarity from the detailed discussions and heard from experts in the room. Practical implications of the new Fire Safety Act were debated including the need for fire risk assessors to consider external elements of a building and the additional work that will be involved in this requirement. In particular, it’s apparent that, in many cases, a fire risk assessor will need to resort to additional specialist external wall assessment expertise to inform their overall assessment, which could extend the time taken to complete a fire risk assessment in such circumstances.”

Professional Indemnity Insurance

Professional Indemnity Insurance (PII) was also a key topic in the workshop. “Competent assessors, with appropriate PII cover, are essential to the success of the new regulatory regime,” observed Wilkinson. “We took this opportunity to outline to Government how the sector is at a crisis point with PII, particularly so given the current widespread exclusion of cover for work relating to external wall assessments.”

To continue building on the success of this initial workshop, a further meeting is planned to take place once the Fire Safety Act 2021 has been introduced.

The IFE and the organisations present at the workshop responsible for implementing the new requirements are committed to achieving the best possible levels of professionalism and competence in the assessment of fire risk for the benefit of society and to help make the world safer from fire.