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Feast of fire

07 July 2021

Those industry professionals visiting Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre in early September to attend Nineteen Group’s Safety and Security Series will be privy to the UK’s largest group of events wholly dedicated to protecting people, property and assets. Here, Fire Safety Matters takes a look at what’s in store for practitioners at The Fire Safety Event

THE FIRE Safety Event sits within what show organiser Nineteen Group references as its Safety and Security Series. The latter – which runs at the NEC from 7-9 September – encompasses no fewer than six different events: The Fire Safety Event itself plus The Health and Safety Event, The Facilities Event, The Security Event, The National Cyber Security Show and The Emergency Services Show. The sum of those parts is quite astounding, with over 900 exhibitors occupying some 55,000 m2 of floor space. Impressive statistics to say the very least, with The Fire Safety Event destined to be the only fire sector trade show running in a COVID-shaped 2021 and has more than doubled in size since it last ran successfully in 2019.

Pleasingly for visitors, one pass allows access to all shows in the Safety and Security Series, with all events – except for The Emergency Services Show, which runs on the first two days only – spanning three solid days packed with content of relevance and genuine worth for practising professionals.

The biggest correlation for The Fire Safety Event is with The Emergency Services Show. What the latter enables Nineteen Group to do is tap directly into the Fire and Rescue Service itself. That being so, there’s now a bigger platform than ever to showcase and discuss aspects of fire safety, all the way from a focus on domestic and commercial issues right through to the Fire and Rescue Service. Now, the entirety of the fire sector’s constituent elements is represented across the Safety and Security Series.

Seminar programme

There are three seminar theatres again this year. The Fire Safety Theatre (sponsored by Advanced) will cover the challenging and critical topics surrounding fire safety management. Leading experts will discuss the latest developments in compliance and risk assessment and also how to ensure that any building work or maintenance undertaken is completely safe and, importantly, compliant with current fire safety regulations.

The Tall Buildings Theatre is organised by the Association for Specialist Fire Protection (ASFP) and, in 2021, sponsored by Safety Chair. The content here is ideal for those individuals with direct responsibility for managing fire safety in tall and high-rise buildings. That content (more of which anon) is very much trained on enhancing the practitioner’s knowledge base and improving approaches to passive fire protection.

Last, but not least, The Fire and Security Installer Theatre is being run in conjunction with the National Security Inspectorate (NSI). Dedicated to the needs of fire and security system installers and integrators, The Installer Theatre will provide important industry updates and guidance for practitioners and business owners alike. With a keen focus on standards, regulation and industry Best Practice, the seminar sessions will be vital to ensure businesses remain compliant and are best equipped to meet the needs of their clients.

All of the content on offer is accredited for Continuing Professional Development (CPD). Attendees can claim their CPD points through their recognised provider. There will be 16 theatres running across the six shows, in fact, delivering over 300 hours of CPD content. It’s also worth noting that attendance at any given session will be on a first come, first served basis.

The Fire Safety Theatre

At 11.00 am on Day One of The Fire Safety Event, Dennis Davis (executive officer at the Fire Sector Federation) and the ASFP’s technical and regulatory affairs officer Niall Rowan will examine the implications of the new Building Safety Bill that’s currently making its way through the Houses of Parliament.

Another not-to-be-missed session runs at 2.30 pm when Laura White (associate at legal practice Pinsent Masons LLP) presides over a mock trial. This session will focus on the recreation of a real-life trial under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. The audience serves as the Jury during the trial, which is to be conducted by experienced fire safety lawyers.

Day two kicks off at 10.15 am with Bob Docherty (President of the Institute of Fire Safety Managers) and Alistair Cowin of CGE Risk Management Solutions reviewing the management of fire risk and liability. There’s also a session on the importance of passive fire protection, while Ken Bullock (business development manager at Advanced) takes to the lectern at 12.15 pm to deliver a presentation on evacuation planning (with the new BS 8629 Code of Practice very much in mind).

All you need to know about the Fire Safety Act 2021 is the focus for Home Office representative Kevin Finch. In this session, Finch will share an update on next steps following the Hackitt Review and explain precisely what the impacts of this new legislation. He’ll also outline the steps all relevant individuals will need to negotiate in order to comply with the changes.

In a similar vein, Day three of the show sees Mark Cottell of the National Fire Chiefs Council examine British Standards and fire safety regulations in the wake of the reviews of the Building Regulations and the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. At 12.15 pm, Ray Puttock (from EMS), Tony Hanley (of FirePro UK) and Paul Pope (representing Global Fire Equipment) offer an assessment of how to protect today’s buildings using modern fire solutions.

The Tall Buildings Theatre

A multitude of topics will be covered during presentations delivered in The Tall Buildings Theatre. Day one plays host to sessions on holistic approaches to fire safety, legislation post-Grenfell, compliance and governance. The opening day closes at 2.30 pm with a passive fire protection-centric case study presented by Damien Ward MIFireE, head of technical at Checkmate Fire.

Day two looks at what you need to know to manage fire safety in tall buildings, the impact of modern methods of construction on fire safety, fire compartmentation within timber frame structures and also modern forms of compartmentation (eg fire curtains and fire-resistant glazing).

On Thursday 9 September there’ll be presentations on ensuring installer competency, the importance of passive fire protection as part of a fire risk assessment, Best Practice when it comes to firestopping and also a consideration of the main issues around smoke control.

The Installer Theatre

Day one witnesses John Davidson (head of field operations for systems at the NSI) examining changes to fire safety standards and fire certification schemes. This session begins at noon and is followed at 1.00 pm by Ross Evans (technical support manager and product specialist at Fike) turning his attentions towards ensuring the quality of fire safety system installations post-Grenfell.

The final session on Day three is also of keen interest, with Bob Docherty appearing once again, this time at 2.30 pm to offer his thoughts on whether or not the time is now right to introduce ‘Fire Safety Passports’.

Time for networking

Networking is a hugely important aspect of The Fire Safety Event. On the first evening of the show there’s going to be a VIP Networking event at The Vox Conference Centre. This is for both the fire and security industries. The plan is that there will be up to 500 people in attendance for what promises to be an informal gathering and a great opportunity for people to re-connect and perhaps have a non-work related catch-up outside of show opening hours.

For those individuals harbouring concerns over COVID, Nineteen Group and the team at The Vox will follow the Government’s guidelines to the letter. On that note – and by dint of working in conjunction with both the NEC and The Vox – Nineteen Group is very confident that the organisation will be able to put on the safest possible events with minimal disruption in relation to what we’ve all come to know as the ‘normal’ show environment.

Nineteen Group is also very confident of being able to deliver a significant audience for the Safety and Security Series as more than 27,000 delegates have already registered to attend. There has been a good deal of frustration in terms of industry professionals not being able to meet face-to-face due to COVID, tempered by the truism that the Government’s lockdowns have been absolutely necessary. Nineteen Group fervently hopes that there will be a resounding return to face-to-face events come September.

Further benefit for attendees

It’s no secret that the NEC is the UK’s most (and best) connected venue whether you’re talking road, rail or air travel. It resides right in the middle of the country and is ably supported by a first class transport infrastructure.

With over 45,000 car parking spaces on site, Nineteen Group has been able to secure places for visitors to the Safety and Security Series. Every visitor to the shows will receive a free car parking pass, in fact, which will enable them to visit the NEC and not incur any cost for doing so.

Premier Partners for the fifth edition of The Fire Safety Event are Advanced, Apollo, asecos, C-TEC, Checkmate Fire, Eaton, EMS, Global Fire Equipment, Kingspan and Safety Technology International (Europe).

In addition to Fire Safety Matters as Official Journal and Lead Media Partner, event partners and supporters also include the ASFP, BAFE, the Building Engineering Services Association, the Fire and Security Association (a division of the ECA), the Fire Protection Association, the Institution of Fire Engineers, the Independent Fire Engineering and Distributors Association, the Institute of Fire Safety Managers, the Rail Industry Fire Association, the National Association of Healthcare Fire Officers and the Smoke Control Association.

Register online for The Fire Safety Event at www.firesafetyevent.com