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Home>Fire>Fire and Rescue >Tall Building Fire Safety Limited-SFJ Awards training partnership forged to enhance standards

Tall Building Fire Safety Limited-SFJ Awards training partnership forged to enhance standards

26 April 2021

IN THE wake of the catastrophic Grenfell Tower blaze, the Government is taking the next steps towards a safer future through the implementation of new fire and building safety regulations in England and Wales. With the proposed changes set to have a significant impact on those accountable for the management of residential tall buildings, a new partnership between Tall Building Fire Safety Limited and SFJ Awards is enabling stakeholders to remain compliant and competent.

Last month, the Government moved closer to legislating – through the Fire Safety Bill (currently laid before Parliament) and the Building Safety Bill (due to come later this year) – in order to strengthen the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 across a number of key areas by publishing its Fire Safety Consultation response. This is a vital step forward in helping to ensure a tragedy like Grenfell Tower never happens again.

Widely welcomed, the planned overhaul of the statutory guidance provided under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 brings together local enforcement agencies and national regulators to work in a new system to oversee the performance of building and fire safety. This will enable a ‘golden thread’ of vital information to be gathered over a building’s lifetime, ensuring safety improvements into the future.

Most notably, the reform imposes greater duties and accountability on the appointed ‘Responsible Person’ for the safety of residents in multi-occupancy residential buildings. The ‘Responsible Person’ will need to show competency in undertaking, recording and sharing fire risk assessments to a high standard and be clearly identifiable. Fire and Rescue Authorities will be able to take strong action against those who do not.

With the consequences of ‘getting it wrong’ now so great, it’s not only vital that these ‘duty holders’ have access to the right training and at the right time in order to develop the skills they require, but also that they’re able to evidence them. As a result, hundreds of employers and individuals will need certificated fire safety training when the changes come into force later this year.

Echoing the sentiments of Dame Judith Hackitt, the time for the industry to act and raise the bar is now rather than waiting for legislation to enforce competence.

Immediate challenge

Russ Timpson, managing director of the Tall Building Fire Safety Network, said: “The new UK regulatory frameworks present an immediate challenge to fire safety specialists, social and private landlords, construction companies, managing agents and even residents who must swiftly acquire the competency to navigate them. As the UK’s leading network for tall building fire safety, we needed to ensure that we were able to rapidly deliver fit for purpose fire safety training programmes to help stakeholders meet this need.”

Timpson continued: “As the only fire safety training of its kind for tall building environments, our tailored Tall Building Fire Safety Management course is targeted at harnessing the skills learners require to take the appropriate steps and actions to mitigate and manage fire risks on an ongoing basis. This includes the need for employers to appoint a competent building safety manager, as well as create and maintain the ‘golden thread’ of building fire safety information in unique and complex tall building scenarios. The programme is recognised by the Institution of Fire Engineers and relevant for literally hundreds of individuals, employers and building managers today and into the future.”

In order to provide assurance to both learners and their employers that they’ve developed the right skills and knowledge to perform their roles safely, Tall Building Fire Safety Limited has partnered with SFJ Awards, who’s own newly-launched Custom Certification service accredits bespoke learning programmes just like this one.

John Clark, head of awards and assurance services at SFJ Awards, explained: “With the potentially catastrophic impact of tall building fires, the need for specific competencies to help prevent risk, tackle incidents and improve fire safety within them is immediate. The Tall Building Safety Management course is delivered by specialist tall building fire engineers, technical regulators, fire safety enforcers and firefighting operational commanders to provide learners working in the tall building environment with the skills, knowledge and behaviours they need to manage fire risk.”

The programme was approved by SFJ Awards’ Custom Certification and Quality Assurance team in November last year in time for the training to be launched in December.

Timpson added: “Becoming an SFJ Awards approved centre means the subsequent certification and qualification for learners who may take the role of ‘duty holder’ is invaluable. Individuals with this SFJ Awards-certificated training may be appointed as a competent building safety manager or required to create or maintain a ‘golden thread’ of building safety information.”

Going into detail

An initial cohort of ten registered learners have already completed the programme, while a further 12 are due to start this month. Scott Kirkwood, a fire safety advisor who undertook the training programme in the first cohort, informed Fire Safety Matters: “The Tall Building Fire Safety Limited training has definitely helped me by going into more detail on subjects that I already had knowledge of, but would not necessarily have been able to go into in as much detail when discussing with a client why certain fire protection measures should be in place. Alongside Russ, the guest speakers who delivered the training are all experts in their field and were brilliant. They provided very interesting information.”

More and more tall buildings are being built, and existing tall buildings modified and changed, as cities worldwide adopt ambitious building programmes. There are few specialists that work in the field and there’s a distinct lack of relevant or available qualifications for those looking to professionalise their skills.

Russ Timpson observed: “Our Tall Building Safety Management course has been running internationally since 2013, providing much needed support to the rapidly expanding tall building environment. With new building safety regulations in the UK demanding competence from ‘duty holders’, we see this as a great opportunity to improve standards and drive safety in an area where it’s sorely needed.”

In addition to this management programme, Tall Building Fire Safety Limited will also be delivering other bespoke, quality assured Tall/High-Risk Building Level 3 certificates in the future, including certificates focused on Fire Safety in High-Risk Residential Buildings, Fire Safety in Tall Buildings Under Construction and Building Safety Bill Higher-Risk Building Duty Holder Awareness.

John Clark concluded: “The Government’s reform, together with Tall Building Fire Safety Limited’s training, will help in ensuring greater accountability and responsibility for fire and structural safety issues throughout the lifecycle of all buildings within the scope of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. We’re honoured to be able to further enhance the quality of such vital learning through our Custom Certification service and, in turn, ensure that the public feel safe and are safe from fire, regardless of where they live, stay or work.”