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Sprinkler system awareness fostered at CABE built environment events

25 July 2023

THE BUSINESS Sprinkler Alliance took the opportunity to raise awareness of sprinkler systems by supporting the Chartered Association of Building Engineers (CABE) Built Environment Conference Series, which ran in Salford and Cardiff in June.

Following the theme of ‘Performance, Compliance and Safety’, CABE’s Built Environment England and Wales Conferences were held at Salford University and Cardiff Metropolitan University on 20 and 22 June respectively. Attracting expert panels of speakers interacting with a wide range of construction and property sector professionals, the technical leadership conferences covered the key issues within the sector today, including building safety, construction materials, quality, performance and zero carbon within the built environment.

In Salford, the keynote address delivered by Chris Griffin-McTiernan, the recently appointed Deputy Chief Inspector of Buildings, shared insights on the establishment of the new Building Safety Regulator at the Health and Safety Executive, including the latest news on the registration of high-rise residential buildings, the new duty holder regimes and the future regulation of the building control profession itself.

A particular number that stuck out was that circa one-third of consultations with the Building Safety Regulator concentrating on high-rise buildings still raise a concern of some kind, but it must be said that this is an improvement over the past 12 months. Questions from the audience looked at whether the market is actually changing or otherwise waiting for new instructions.

Richard Harral, technical director at CABE, added to the debate by explaining the significant scope within the Building Safety Act 2022, describing it as the largest piece of legislation since World War II. A fact that had not registered before now and signals the scale of the journey.

For its part, the Building Safety Act brings clarity to the question of responsibility and emphasises the importance of understanding individual roles within the framework.

Fire engineers

Ray Quinn of BB7 delivered an interesting insight into the role of the fire engineer and how that needs to progress.

In both Salford and Cardiff there were sessions on the particularly thorny subject of product regulation. The overriding sentiment was that products should deliver on their intended purpose when installed correctly, duly living up to the claims made by their manufacturer. Equally within that is the need for those selecting such products to understand their own role within that process as designers. The mechanisms to deliver are still developing.

Other keynote speakers in Salford and Cardiff included Jon Vanstone (chair of the Interim Competence Committee), Hanna Clarke (digital and policy manager at the Construction Products Association), Amanda Stubbs (partner at Trowers & Hamlins) and Dr Hywel Davies (chief technical officer at the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers).

Tom Roche, secretary of the Business Sprinkler Alliance, commented: “While continual progress has been made, the industry is still on a journey towards the full implementation of regulatory change. The notion for waiting for everything to be clarified is just not practical in a sea of so much change. What we can see is how safeguarding people and property can form clear objectives.”

Competency is central to the thinking on changing the construction and fire safety sectors. “It’s essential,” observed Roche, “to possess and maintain expertise in your area of specialism and acknowledge your limits.”

Benefits of sprinkler systems

These technical conferences afforded the Business Sprinkler Alliance the ideal platform to discuss the benefits of sprinkler systems for protecting people and property and also how active fire protection can play a role in sustainability.

“We’re delighted to lend our support to these regional events where we can see education and knowledge are key,” concluded Roche. “It was very encouraging to witness a greater understanding of the benefits – and an increased adoption of – sprinkler systems.”

The Business Sprinkler Alliance advocates greater business resilience by enhancing protection against fire through the increased acceptance and use of fire sprinklers in commercial and industrial premises.

*For more detail or to book your place at upcoming CABE regional events taking place in Scotland on 6 September and in Ireland on 19 September visit https://www.business-sprinkler-alliance.org/events

**Further information about the Business Sprinkler Alliance is available online at www.business-sprinkler-alliance.org