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Warringtonfire’s Birchwood Park Laboratory hits commissioning stage 18/04/2024

WARRINGTONFIRE’S NEW £25 million laboratory located at Birchwood Technology Park is now at the ‘third fix’ stage, with four out of a planned seven of its state-of-the-art fire resistance testing furnaces already installed, marking significant progress towards the building’s completion and commissioning.

In August last year, Warringtonfire – the testing and certification provider – announced that it was building a brand new 101,000 sq ft facility. This significant investment enables Warringtonfire, which is part of the global Element Materials Technology (Element) Group, to expand capacity and meet an increasing demand for fire resistance testing of critical fire safety products and systems, among them fire door sets, intumescent coatings for steel protection and myriad other passive fire protection solutions.

Ten months into Warringtonfire’s projected 17-month build programme, four furnaces have now been fitted and are ready to enter the commissioning phase very shortly. The furnaces will be supported by a raft of technology designed to carefully manage air quality both during and after the testing process.

This technology includes new air handling and high-performance ventilation systems, as well as cold smoke and hot smoke extraction systems, thereby ensuring a better working environment for employees and compliance with strict environmental regulations.

To support this, specialists from the Element Group undertook an extensive Environmental Impact Assessment involving acoustics and noise modelling, air quality dispersion modelling and emissions monitoring.

By the time of the laboratory’s opening, which is scheduled for January 2025, two vertical furnaces, two horizontal furnaces and one indicative furnace will be ready to accept test specimens. Another two furnaces, one horizontal and one vertical, will be installed by the end of 2026.

In total, this will represent an 80% increase in testing capacity over Warringtonfire’s current site at Holmesfield Road in Warrington. Following the opening of the Birchwood Park laboratory, the existing facility will become a Centre of Excellence for reaction to fire testing and encompass smaller-scale tests including spread of flame and heat release.

Significant capital investment

Dafydd Llewelyn-Jones, project manager for Element Materials Technology, has been co-ordinating the new laboratory’s construction: “We are on track with our progress and actually seven weeks ahead of schedule in terms of the furnaces themselves,” said Llewelyn-Jones. “We are now moving swiftly along towards fitting out all of the office areas and Control Rooms, commissioning the building services and completing the test bay preparation areas.”

Llewelyn-Jones added: “It’s brilliant to see this project coming together. We’ve put a significant amount of money into making sure this new laboratory is truly one of the best in Europe, if not the world.”

Besides the investment into furnaces, Warringtonfire is committed to reducing the laboratory’s carbon footprint and making the new site as sustainable as possible. Measures include energy-efficient fans, upgraded power supply transformers that consume minimal electricity when idle and an electric vehicle infrastructure that includes a fleet of forklifts and charging points.

The site will also be well lit through a combination of natural light from skylights and LED lighting that delivers high lux levels. In addition, the laboratory is configured to accept a blend of clean hydrogen and natural gas once local infrastructure offers this service.

State-of-the-art facility

Leigh Hill, divisional director for fire and building products at Warringtonfire, commented: “Our new laboratory will be the largest state-of-the-art fire testing and certification facility worldwide, and one of the most environmentally conscious. We’ve made substantial investments in procuring the most cutting-edge building services equipment available.”

*Further information is available online at https://www.warringtonfire.com/about-warringtonfire/warrington-site-relocation-and-expansion

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High-rise building details remain scarce for Fire and Rescue Services 18/04/2024

NEW RESEARCH conducted by signage company FASTSIGNS UK reveals that Fire and Rescue Services in England have, on average, received just 30% of high-rise building plans and 21% of external wall systems plans that are required under the Government’s updated fire safety regulations.

The Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022, which were enforced as of 23 January last year, make it a legal requirement for ‘Responsible Persons’ of high-rise residential buildings of seven stories or more to provide the local Fire and Rescue Service with appropriate safety information, including up-to-date building and external wall system plans.

The research sheds light on the percentage of building plans and external wall system plans submitted by qualifying high-rise buildings across England since the introduction of the Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022, using data from a series of Freedom of Information (FoI) requests made to 18 Fire and Rescue Services compared against data for the number of high-rise structures present within each Fire and Rescue Service domain.

It emerges that Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service has the highest percentage of submissions received for both, with 88% of up-to-date building plans submitted and 88%% of up-to-date external wall system plans submitted.

Only Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service has received more for building plans. However, no external wall plans have been submitted as yet.

Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service has received only 6% of building plans and just 4% of external wall plans for high-rises located in its domain.

Response to Grenfell

The Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 were brought forward in response to the Grenfell Tower tragedy in June 2017, where on-site emergency response teams reported that navigating such a complex residential building without clear directional signage prevented them from carrying out their duties safely.

Consequently, a recommendation was made that signage in addition to building and external wall system plans for multi-occupied high-rise residential buildings must be a legal requirement.

Using the information provided, Fire and Rescue Services are then able to plan an effective response should an emergency arise in the future, while also enabling residents to exit as they can follow clear and signposted instructions.

The breakdown of county-specific FoI request findings is as follows:

Fire and Rescue Service

% of those who have submitted external wall plans

% of those who have submitted building plans

Essex County Fire and Rescue Service

0%

27%

Hampshire & Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service

0%

13%

Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service

0%

100%

Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service

0%

9%

Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service

4%

6%

Surrey Fire and Rescue Service

10%

0%

Kent Fire and Rescue Service

12%

18%

Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service

13%

11%

Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service

14%

6%

Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service

15%

8%

Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service

17%

55%

Devon & Somerset Fire and Rescue Service

17%

25%

Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service

20%

9%

Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service

24%

18%

Tyne & Wear Fire and Rescue Service

40%

59%

Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service

53%

47%

Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service

56%

52%

Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service

88%

88%

National average

21%

31%

Minimising the risk

John Davies, managing director of FASTSIGNS UK, commented: “No matter the industry under consideration, Health and Safety signage is fundamental in terms of minimising risks and supporting people’s well-being. It’s also crucial in the event of an emergency.”

Davies added: “With certified safety and directional signage, both residents and response teams will be able to clearly navigate high-rise buildings when an incident occurs.”

Study methodology

FASTSIGNS UK contacted 18 Fire and Rescue Services in England, asking them for the latest information on building and external wall plans submitted in relation to high-rise buildings in their jurisdiction.

The data included in the research was supplied by each corresponding Fire and Rescue Service. This makes up almost 50% of all Fire and Rescue Services in England, while omitting any that don’t have buildings with seven-plus storeys covered by the Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022.

The data includes the number of building plans and external wall plans received since January 2023 and up to the end of last October.

FASTSIGNS UK then carried out a separate Freedom of Information request to determine how many high-rise buildings are served by each Fire and Rescue Service, which provided the opportunity to calculate the percentage of responses against the number of high-rise buildings.

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BRE seeks feedback on draft video flame detectors standard 18/04/2024

THE BUILDING Research Establishment (BRE) is currently seeking feedback on Loss Prevention Standard (LPS) 1976: Requirements and Testing Procedures for the LPCB Approval and Listing of Video Flame Detectors.

Specifically, LPS 1976 specifies the requirements, test methods and performance criteria for video flame detectors and video flame detection systems. These detectors detect changes in video images characterised by the properties of flames generated during the combustion of carbon-based materials.

Such detectors are installed in and around buildings as well as in broader applications, but are intended to be used as part of fire detection systems.

LPS 1976 is based on the well-established requirements and test methodology of EN 54-10 to set out the requirements specific to the capture and analysis of video images of potential flaming fires, assesses the immunity to false alarm sources relevant to the new technology and provides the basis for regulatory approval of these new types of flame detectors/systems.

These types of detectors are suited to large open spaces at greater distances from the fire in environments in which there may be sources of contamination or causes of false alarms. Examples include challenging environments such as departure lounges, aircraft hangars, oil rigs, waste processing facilities, tunnels and factories.

False alarm rejection

This type of detector offers robust false alarm rejection as they can be programmed to reject common false alarm sources.

LPS 1976 approaches this technology with performance requirements for video flame detectors and video flame detection systems intended to operate as primary systems, offering comparable levels of protection to other fire detectors that operation to EN 54 standards.

The Loss Prevention Standard allows manufacturers to specify the range of the video flame detector and video flame detection system over which it can detect a flaming fire. The range is tested by measuring the response of detectors to test fires at minimum and maximum distances as declared by the manufacturer.

Any questions concerning the consultation should be directed to Raman Chagger MSc FIET, principal consultant within the Fire Detection Group at the BRE.

*The consultation process for LPS 1976 closes on 1 May. Access the draft of LPS 1976 and its supporting form

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Winners named for £150 million UK public sector Fire Safety Framework 18/04/2024

UPWARDS OF 70 fire safety expert businesses have been appointed to a new £150 million UK-wide public sector Fire Safety Framework. The Fire Safety (FS2) Framework from the LHC Procurement Group witnesses 72 winning companies deliver fire protection, suppression and safety-related services for housing associations, local authorities and the wider public sector.

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Finalists announced for Fire and Security Matters Awards 2024 16/04/2024

THE SHORTLIST of finalists for the third edition of the annual Fire and Security Matters Awards has now been published by organiser Western Business Media, the publisher of Fire Safety Matters and Security Matters.

This year, Western Business Media has received a record number of 329 entries. The winners will now be decided by a panel of independent industry experts.

The Fire and Security Matters Awards 2024 Ceremony takes place on 12 June at the Coventry Building Society Arena. The BAFE Fire Safety Register, which is celebrating its 40th Anniversary this year, is serving as Headline Sponsor.

50% of available tickets to the Fire and Security Matters Awards Ceremony, which is being hosted by comedian Jason Manford, have already been sold in advance. If you would like to join us on the night, you will need to act fast before the event is sold out.

Tickets are priced at £199+VAT per person or £1,800+VAT for a table of ten. 

Book your tickets NOW by CLICKING HERE.

2024 finalists

The shortlist of finalists for the Fire and Security Matters Awards 2024 is as follows:

Fire Safety Manufacturer of the Year (Sponsored by Fire Safety Matters)
*Advanced
*Aico
*ARC Building Solutions
*Bandweaver Technology
*C-TEC
*Eurotech Fire Systems
*Fire & Acoustic Seals
*Illumino Ignis
*Kentec
*Thermocable

Fire Safety Installation Company of the Year (Sponsored by Apollo Fire Detectors)
*EFire
*M&G Fire Protection
*Miller Knight
*Ogilvie Fire Protection
*PB Services (London)
*SharpEagle Technology
*Ventro Group
*Wentworth Security & Fire Protection
*Uni-Guard Fire Protection

Fire Safety Manager of the Year (Sponsored by Tio Fire Safety)
*Alastair Griffiths (East Midlands Airport)
*Andrew Lewis (Mitie Fire and Security Systems)
*Ben Hall (Arcus FM)
*Dan Grundy (Atlas BFW Management)
*Howard Melvin (Ventro Group)
*Jim Morley (Canterbury Cathedral)
*Kevin Ruane (Liverpool Women’s NHS Foundation Trust)
*Matt Spivey (Synergy Fire Engineering)
*Neville Tomblin (Southampton City Council)
*Ray Hope (RayFire Services)
*Richard Hennelly (Origin Housing)
*Stephen Patten (Securitas)

Fire Safety Team of the Year (Sponsored by EMS)
*AESG
*Complete Detection Systems
*Global HSE Group
*HFR Solutions
*Foster + Partners
*Institute of Fire Safety Managers
*Karbon Homes
*Openview Security Solutions
*Securitas (Canary Wharf)
*Tesco
*University of Brighton
*Wheatley Group

Fire Safety Project of the Year (Sponsored by the Institute of Fire Safety Managers)
*Coopers Fire
*Call Systems Technology
*Drax Technology
*Early Birds Fire Protection *Fire Protection Association
*Galliford Try Asset Intelligence
*Global HSE Group
*Hillingdon Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
*Hochiki Europe
*Hyfire Wireless Fire Solutions
*Howdens
*Orestone

Fire Safety Innovation of the Year (Sponsored by Safelincs)
*Advanced (AdvancedLive)
*Aico (Ei3030 Multi-Sensor Fire and Carbon Monoxide Alarm)
*Bandweaver Technology (FireLaser LHD) 
*Cranford Controls (Addressable Door Retainer) 
*C-TEC (ENVISION)
*Detectortesters (Testifire XTR2)
*Draeger Safety UK (UCF FireCore)
*Eurotech Fire Systems (Sygno-fi)
*Evac+Chair (The Evac+Bundle)
*Honeywell (Self-Test)
*Ocado (Intelligent Automation Solution)
*Siemens (Siemens Building X Fire Apps)

Fire Safety Campaign of the Year (Sponsored by Aico)
*Apollo Fire Detectors (Sustainability Journey)
*Global HSE Group (Whiteboard Animations)
*Howdens (Joinery Fire Door Guide)
*Safe Fire Protection (Fire Ninja)
*Zzeus Training (Fire Alarm Engineers Training)

Fire Industry Woman of the Year (Sponsored by FFE)
*Alexandra Hale (Jensen Hughes)
*Avene Furness (Chute Fire Certification UK)
*Hayley Burgess (Institution of Fire Engineers)
*Holly Robinson (RGE Services)
*Hong Liang (AESG)
*Lauren Paver (Triton Group)
*Mandy Bowden (Comelit-PAC)
*Nicki Prater (Complete Detection Systems)
*Nicola John (Fire Door Maintenance)
*Paulina Chojecka (Securitas UK)
*Victoria Wells (Apollo Fire Detectors)
*Wendy Emery (Canford Healthcare)

Security Manufacturer of the Year (Sponsored by PSi)
*ASSA ABLOY
*Bandweaver Technology
*Comelit-PAC
*Everbridge
*Gallagher Security
*HID
*IDIS Europe
*i-PRO
*OPTEX
*Pyronix
*Texecom
*Traka UK

Security Guarding Company of the Year (Sponsored by the National Security Inspectorate)
*CB Events Security
*Corps Security
*Gardant Security
*Granite Elite
*Mitie Security
*SecuriGroup
*Smart Sec Solutions
*StrongGuard Security UK
*Unitrust Protection Services UK

Security Installation Company of the Year (Sponsored by Hikvision)
*Galliford Try Asset Intelligence
*Link CCTV Systems
*Marlowe Fire & Security
*MES Systems
*North
*Red Security Systems
*Richards CCTV
*Secure-Serv
*SecuriGroup Systems
*Servo Group
*Shield Fire and Security Services
*Wentworth Security & Fire Protection

Security/Risk Manager of the Year (Sponsored by the Institute of Strategic Risk Management)
*Gareth Herbert (Mitie Security)
*George Phillips (Gardant Security)
*Jonathan Guerriero (GUK)
*Jonny McGrath (Mitie Security)
*Leigh Harper (Cundall)
*Mark McQuade (Corps Security)
*Mike Swaine (BML Group)
*Peter Miles (Broadstone Risks)
*Ross Harvey (Rockfort Security Consultants)
*Warren Taylor-Smith (Wincanton plc)

Security Team of the Year (Sponsored by Security Matters Live)
*BBC and Mitie
*DGP plc (Manchester Airport)
*Corps Security (JCB)
*G4S and Ford Motor Company
*Impact Services (Mayfield)
*Mitie Security (Eurostar)
*Mitie Security (Intelligence Hub)
*OCS Group (Ministry of Justice)
*SecuriGroup (Silverburn Shopping Centre)
*Servo Group
*Trafford Centre
*UMBRA International

Security Project of the Year (Sponsored by the Security Systems and Alarms Inspection Board)
*BT Group
*Gemini AMPM
*Hanwha Vision Europe
*HID
*IDIS Europe
*LINEV Systems UK
*Kings Secure Technologies
*Mitie Fire and Security Systems
*Olchon and Associates
*Partizan Security
*Shield Fire & Security Services
*Vodafone Group

Security Industry Woman of the Year (Sponsored by The Security Event)
*Chrissie Ryle (Herongrange Group)
*Emma Francioli (Jackson Fire & Security UK)
*Francesca Boeris (Comelit-PAC)
*Georgina Newland (Nova Security Systems)
*Julie Deeming (Westgrove Group)
*Kelly Gill (ASSA ABLOY EMEIA)
*Kim Brechin (SecuriGroup)
*Leigh Harper (Cundall)
*Letitia Emeana (ASIS UK)
*Lori Cracovschi (SecuriGroup)
*Michelle Laurence (Unitrust Protection Services UK)
*Sarah Blackford (Gardant Security)

Security Campaign of the Year (Sponsored by Security Matters)
*Galliford Try Asset Intelligence (Vandalism Reduction to Rolling Stock)
*HID (Open More with HID Mobile Access)
*Running on Empty (Running on Empty)

Security Innovation of the Year (Sponsored by Texecom)
*ASSA ABLOY (ABLOY CUMULUS)
*AURA UK (Rapid Security Response)
*CSL Group (VoiceLink)
*ECS and BPEC (Fire, Emergency and Security Systems Experienced Worker Assessment)
*Hanwha Vision Europe (AI-based Radiometric Thermal Cameras)
*Hikvision (TandemVu PTZ Series with Panoramic View)
*i-PRO (X-Series Edge AI Cameras)
*Movement Strategies (Immersive Simulation for Responding to Terrorism)
*OPTEX (REDSCAN Mini-Pro)
*Pinnacle Systems (Open Integration Platform)
*Pyronix (CarDefender)
*SIRV (SIRV Artificial Intelligence Assistant)

ESG Company of the Year (Turnover under £10 million) (Sponsored by Millwood Servicing)
*Broadstone Risks
*Complete Detection Systems
*Global HSE Solutions
*HAIX
*Hue Imbued Consultancy
*Magenta Security Services
*Thermocable
*Tio Fire Safety
*Trustee Fire & Security

ESG Company of the Year (Turnover over £10 million) (Sponsored by Millwood Servicing)
*Advanced
*Apollo Fire Detectors
*City Group Security
*Corps Security
*Galliford Try Asset Intelligence
*Smart Sec Solutions
*Safelincs
*SecuriGroup
*Servo Group

Distributor of the Year (Sponsored by C-TEC)
*Aerocom (UK)
*ADI Global Distribution
*CIE-Group
*COP UK
*DVS
*Fire Seals Direct
*Howdens
*Illumino Ignis
*Minster
*Safelincs

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Dame Judith Hackitt marks “significant milestone” for building safety regime 16/04/2024

THIS MONTH marks a significant milestone for the Building Safety Regulator at the Health and Safety Executive as the new building safety regime is fully established in law. Dame Judith Hackitt has chosen the moment to reflect on the journey so far and called on everyone involved to continue working together to ensure the new regime works for all.

When Dame Judith agreed to carry out the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety almost seven years ago, there was no sense of how deep the involvement might be or for how long. Certainly, Dame Judith believes this process has proven to be “one of the most important work programmes” ever undertaken by the British engineer and civil servant.

“Like everyone else, I was shocked to the core by what happened at Grenfell Tower in 2017 and even more so by the subsequent discovery of the poor practices that were widespread,” stated Dame Judith. “Understanding how we had arrived at this sorry state was not enough for me. Seeing through the much needed changes became a very personal and passionate mission.”

Although this month does indeed mark a very significant milestone on the journey, Dame Judith asserted: “We all need to be crystal clear that this is not the end of the journey. In many ways, we have made huge progress in arriving at where we are and we now look forward to rebuilding confidence in the safety of residents in their homes wherever they live.”

Industry Safety Steering Group

Chaired by Dame Judith, the Industry Safety Steering Group has recently published its fourth report. This document shows where progress is really being made, but also highlights the many players in this complex system who have yet to wake up and stand up to their responsibilities.

Dame Judith continued: “We’ve recently concluded that there’s an ongoing role for the Industry Safety Steering Group to support the work of the Building Safety Regulator and Government more broadly as reform of various aspects of building safety continues.”

Further, Dame Judith noted: “We will continue to challenge those who wait to be told rather than seizing the opportunity to do what they already know they should be doing. We will also highlight and praise good practice where we see it and hold it up as an exemplar to the rest of industry.”

Foremost concern

Dame Judith’s “biggest concern” remains the number of people who persist in finding reasons not to act – most often cited as waiting for someone else to provide the detail.

“My greatest wish is for us all to commit to work together to make the new building safety regime work for everyone, but most of all for all residents everywhere. We will continue to learn as we move forward.”

In conclusion, Dame Judith said: “We know there are challenging issues still to be addressed, but this ‘once in a generation’ change is a reality. Sadly, it’s very much the case that many industry sectors have learned hard lessons from tragedies. Now is the time for the built environment to pledge to do the same.”

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Grenfell Tower Inquiry final report delayed due to notification process 16/04/2024

THE GRENFELL Tower Inquiry team has used its April Newsletter to inform the sector – and the public at large – that its final report into the fire that occurred on 14 June 2017 and claimed 72 lives will not be published ahead of the seventh anniversary of the tragedy in London’s North Kensington.

It emerges that the process of notifying those who may be subject to criticism in that final report, and the subsequent need to consider their responses (as is required by Rule 13 of the Inquiry Rules) is now in its final stages. The Grenfell Tower Inquiry team has had to write to circa 250 individuals: a process that has been “significantly larger and more complex” than originally expected.

Although now reaching its final stages, this means that the team will not be in a position to publish the report before the seventh anniversary of the fire, which had been the plan in place.

The Grenfell Tower Inquiry team added: “We remain determined to publish the report as soon as possible and the whole Inquiry team is working as hard as it can to ensure that no time is lost. When we have a better understanding of how much longer the Rule 13 process is likely to take, we shall write again and, if possible, provide a date for publication.”

Draft chapters for the final report relating to the manufacturers of products and certification bodies are now complete.

Publication of documents

Following the conclusion of hearings for Phase 2, the Grenfell Tower Inquiry team is undertaking a sweep-up and publication process and will continue to publish documents on the website. A list of documents published on the website since 11 November 2022 can be found online.

The last drop-in session for members of the public was held on 25 March. These sessions are an opportunity for members of the public to learn more about the Public Inquiry process and to ask any questions that they may have for members of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry team.

As of the end of last month, the Inquiry has disclosed 20,784 documents in Phase 1 and 299,658 documents in Phase 2, making a total of 320,442.

The total number of core participants in the Public Inquiry process is 638.

*Additional detail is available by accessing the Grenfell Tower Inquiry website

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Unsprinklered Blackburn furniture factory destroyed by devastating fire 15/04/2024

AN EARLY morning blaze at an industrial estate in Blackburn destroyed the production facilities of a local furniture upholsterer. The devastating fire swept through the unsprinklered upholstery unit, sending plumes of orange smoke across the town, with the business and several others now counting the cost of the damage and dealing with the disruption posed to livelihoods.

*Photograph: Business Sprinkler Alliance/Graham Woods

The Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service was called to the fire in the early hours of 17 February when it broke out at NW Upholstery located on Lower Hollin Bank Street. On arrival, the fire was well established and had spread to several neighbouring businesses in an adjacent industrial unit.

The blaze required 50 firefighters, eight appliances and specialist equipment including aerial ladder platforms to bring it under control. It took over nine hours before fire crews could do so.

Although no injuries were reported, considerable resources were used by the Fire and Rescue Service to control the fire.

The impact on the local community and environment has been significant with local road closures, residents forced to keep their windows and doors closed due to harmful smoke and a number of measures employed to minimise the impact of pollution to the local environment.

The destroyed 2,500 m2 building will cause an adverse environmental impact, while the materials and resources required to repair and rebuild it will incur significant financial costs.

Members of the Fire and Rescue Service worked hard to protect surrounding properties, yet the intervention of 50 firefighters could not stop the fire in a building of this size. Industrial fires impact far larger premises with similar results and with potentially larger impacts.

Stark contrast

The fire at the upholstery unit in Blackburn is in stark contrast to a similar fire two years earlier at the Sofa Traders Warehouse in Sheffield. The outcome was completely different as the latter fire was suppressed and extinguished by an automatic sprinkler system, preventing any further damage and allowing the business to be operational the following day.

That fire broke out in the loading area of the premises on Richmond Park Road on 10 February 2022 with five fire crews from the South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service attending the scene. The sprinkler system contained what could have been a potentially major fire and ensured that the unfortunate episode turned out to be only a minor inconvenience.

At the time, the South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service said: “The fire started behind some roller shutter doors in a loading area behind the shop, but because the premises had sprinklers fitted, the fire was contained. Therefore, what could have been a very big fire was in fact over quite quickly.”

While containing and extinguishing fires without loss of life is crucial, comparing these two events highlights the stark differences in potential outcomes.

The fire in Blackburn needed huge resources and continues to have far-reaching effects. The fire in Sheffield used far less resources and exerted only a limited impact on the local community.

Iain Cox, chair of the Business Sprinkler Alliance, noted: “By reducing fire spread, we not only protect lives. We also protect property, businesses and jobs. A properly controlled fire can be the difference between a building requiring minor repair or costly demolition and reconstruction.”

*Further information concerning the Business Sprinkler Alliance can be accessed online at www.business-sprinkler-alliance.org

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NFCC introduces national risk methodologies to support management planning 15/04/2024

THE NATIONAL Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) has released the last of a series of standardised tools designed to support UK Fire and Rescue Services in their community risk management planning.

The Road Traffic Collision Risk Methodology is among a set of evidence-based risk assessment methodologies that can be used by all UK Fire and Rescue Services. It sets out to establish a consistent approach to understanding the risk, likelihood and consequence of road traffic collisions across the country, and will assist each Fire and Rescue Service to assess their preparedness, prevention and response.

Dan Quin, chief fire officer at Surrey Fire and Rescue Service and the NFCC’s executive lead for road safety, explained: “This methodology highlights the significance of Fire and Rescue Service involvement with road safety, in addition to the importance of a joined-up and co-ordinated approach involving our road safety partners.”

Quin continued: “We set out to understand the national picture of risk identification and assessment and created a standardised, data-led tool and evidence-based methodology. This will support decision-making on how to mitigate road safety risk locally and support national comparison and collaboration activities across England, Scotland and Wales.”

Fire interventions

The final community risk management planning guidance which has been launched as part of a series is the Evaluation of Fire Interventions. This document is intended to develop the UK Fire and Rescue Service’s ability to complete robust evaluations across prevention, protection and response.

In 2018, an independent review of community risk management across the UK found that different approaches were being taken by Fire and Rescue Services. That finding was echoed in the first State of Fire Report issued by His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services, which set out recommendations to address the issue.

The tools that have been produced by the NFCC will help Fire and Rescue Services to consistently identify, assess and mitigate community risks and provide both a framework and systemic approach for developing community risk management plans.

The NFCC has also worked with the Fire Standards Board to produce a fire standard for community risk management and also delivered several pieces of guidance and tools that are now being used by Fire and Rescue Services.

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Merseyside property failings realise £30,000 fine for HMO management company 15/04/2024

HOUSING MANAGEMENT company Newsham Park Estates Ltd has been fined a total of £30,000 after an inspection conducted by Liverpool City Council officials found an escape route at a House of Multiple Occupation (HMO) was padlocked shut and blocked by a shipping container.

Newsham Park Estates Ltd pleaded guilty to four breaches of the Management of Houses of Multiple Occupancy Regulations 2006 due to serious issues with tenant safety.

Liverpool City Council’s Private Sector Housing Service visited the property on Belmont Drive in Kensington in January last year after a tenant who lived in one of the rooms at the HMO made a complaint.

On inspection of the property, it was discovered that there was no safe secondary means of escape as the back gate was padlocked shut and also found to be obstructed by a large shipping container.

Fire doors

In addition, no fewer than nine fire doors were found to be in a state of disrepair and holes and gaps were also found in the floor and walls of several rooms, thereby compromising compartmentation and, by extension, fire safety.

At a sentencing hearing conducted at Wirral Magistrates Court on 21 March, the firm was fined £4,500 relating to the padlocked gate, £4,500 relating to the shipping container, £10,800 for the defective fire doors and £8,100 due to the holes/gaps in the property.

With costs and a victim surcharge included, this totalled a sum of £32,694.00 payable by the company.

Safety issues remedied

The property has since been inspected again and, pleasingly, the issues that were originally identified have now been remedied.

Louise Harford, interim director of housing at Liverpool City Council, said: “This case demonstrates clearly that we will investigate and take action when there is clear evidence that landlords are not meeting their legal responsibilities. The action we have taken means tenants in this property are now living in much safer conditions, while the fine that has been issued sends out a really strong message to landlords who are not complying.”

Harford concluded: “We would encourage tenants who have concerns about disrepair and poor conditions to contact us so that we can look into the issues and see if any offences are being committed.”
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