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Government-backed PII scheme for EWS-1 assessors to be delivered by MGAM and SCOR 28/06/2022

A NEW Government-backed professional indemnity insurance (PII) scheme for EWS-1 assessors will be delivered by MGAM (itself an Acrisure Partner) and SCOR in partnership with the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

External wall fire review process forms, commonly known as EWS-1 Forms, were developed by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), UK Finance and the Building Societies Association to support the valuation process for high-rise residential buildings with cladding.

At present, there’s a significant shortage of insurance companies willing to provide professional indemnity cover to firms undertaking assessments of external wall systems in mid-rise and high-rise residential buildings. This is contributing to issues in certain segments of the property market with buyers unable to obtain the necessary certification in order to secure a mortgage.

On 10 February last year, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities announced a Government-backed PII scheme for competent fire safety professionals undertaking EWS-1 assessments to help resolve these issues. Under the new arrangements announced on Tuesday 28 June, this scheme will be delivered by MGAM through an insurance provided by SCOR UK, with Her Majesty’s Government providing reinsurance coverage to SCOR.

The scheme, which is due to be officially launched in September, will last for five years. After five years, it’s anticipated that insurers will step back into the market, which will then remove the requirement for a state-backed scheme.

Protection gap

Jason Anthony, CEO of MGAM, said: “When the Government approached the market for a potential solution to this issue, MGAM recognised the significant protection gap in the market and immediately responded to, and later won, the tender to administer a PI scheme for EWS-1 assessments. We have worked closely with the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and SCOR to create a solution that, over time, will enable the private markets to provide appropriate PI cover to assessors.”

Romain Launay, CEO for specialty insurance at SCOR P&C, added: “SCOR is delighted to be partnering with MGAM and the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities in order to deliver insurance coverage that will ensure EWS-1 assessments can be carried out properly and in a timely fashion, thereby enabling the purchase, sale or re-mortgage of homes in what is a challenging housing market. This initiative aligns with SCOR’s raison d’être, allowing us to reduce the protection gap for the ultimate benefit of society.”

Decisive action

Lord Stephen Greenhalgh, the Minister of State for Building Safety and Fire, explained: “We are taking more decisive action than ever before to tackle over-cautious lending and to help identify fire risks. I’m delighted that MGAM and SCOR are joining us in these efforts.”

Lord Greenhalgh continued: “Our new indemnity scheme will give EWS-1 assessors the confidence they need to exercise their professional judgement and take a more proportionate approach towards their assessments. This is on top of nearly £700,000 in funding that we’ve delivered to train more assessors and I’m very much looking forward to seeing the real-world impact of this effort.”

Stuart Andrew, the Minister for Housing, observed: “In order to offer EWS-1 PII to competent assessors, my department must accept an unlimited contingent liability, with the Government Actuary’s Department making a best estimate of expected losses at circa £100 million. The contingent liability being claimed is unlimited because there is no theoretical cap on the size of claims that could be made. However, the risk is limited by the number of buildings, and also the number of EWS-1 assessments.”

He went on to comment: “To further mitigate this risk, we will only be offering PII cover for accredited professionals who have the requisite training, expertise and knowledge to undertake the EWS-1 assessment. In addition, completed EWS-1 assessments will be subject to an audit process to ensure they are being completed accurately and with due process being followed.”

According to Andrew, the cost of the scheme – including the expected losses – will be offset in full through premiums. “EWS-1 assessors will be required to purchase PII policies for any EWS-1 assessments they complete, with the funds gathered being accumulated and subsequently used to pay out on any insurance claims successfully made against the assessors. In this way, the scheme will operate on a fiscally neutral basis for Government.”

Training programme

Commenting on this development on LinkedIn, Anthony Walker FRICS FSCSI MIFireE (director at Sircle and a member of the RICS UK and Ireland World Regional Board) noted: “The delay in reaching this position has, in my opinion, resulted in many surveyors not pursuing the RICS External Wall Systems Assessment training programme. Asking surveyors to commit well over 40 hours towards study for a qualification that was of little value without PII was seen by many as not best use of fee-earning time.”

Walker concluded: “Since the RICS training programme launched in November 2020, I am led to believe that the total number of individuals who have qualified is less than 100. Hopefully, this latest news from Government will afford practising surveyors greater levels of confidence when it comes to the value of them committing their time to the EWS-1 course.”

*An EWS-1 Form is not a Government or regulatory requirement, nor is it a building or life safety assessment. The RICS has published guidance on the criteria that should be used to determine whether a building needs an EWS-1 Form. That guidance was last updated on 28 January this year

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Leaseholders protected as building safety reforms come into force 28/06/2022

FOR THE first time, many leaseholders will now be legally protected from unfair bills to make their homes safe from fire with measures in the Building Safety Act 2022 coming into force on Tuesday 28 June. Those responsible for historical safety defects, and those who own buildings, will instead be required to fund essential repairs.

Some developers are already stepping up to the mark and doing the right thing. In fact, 45 of the UK’s biggest homebuilders have agreed to fix life-critical fire safety defects on all buildings of 11 metres tall and above for which they played a development or refurbishment role in the last 30 years.

Stronger measures in the Building Safety Act include new powers for the Secretary of State to restrict irresponsible developers’ ability to build new homes, an extension of the Building Safety Levy worth an estimated £3 billion and an improvement centred on building owners’ rights to launch legal action against developers.

Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, explained: “Today marks a major turning point for building safety in this country as we introduce a tough new regime designed to make homes safe and help rid the sector of bad practice once and for all. Hundreds of thousands of innocent leaseholders now have the legal protection they rightly deserve, freeing them from a financial burden they should never have faced.”

Gove continued: “I’m pleased that most of the largest developers have agreed to play their part in solving this issue, but there is more work to do. We are focusing intensively on work with lenders to unlock the mortgage market and empower leaseholders to take their next step on the property ladder. We will also remain vigilant if anyone fails to act on the pledges they’ve made.”

Communication with freeholders

To mark this important development, the Secretary of State has written to freeholders and made clear that the days of leaseholders being faced with large invoices for building safety repairs are now over. The letter reminds freeholders that qualifying leaseholders now have protections in law from costs and that they will be acting illegally if they attempt to circumvent them.

The letter also reminds them of their new responsibilities as part of the Building Safety Act, including the need to ensure that buildings have updated fire risk assessments in place that reflect the latest guidance on proportionality.

Where freeholders or owners of buildings over 18 metres in height with cladding-related issues do not have clear plans to address these issues, they must have full assessments ready to submit to the Building Safety Fund, which will reopen for new applications shortly, thereby helping to ensure applications can be handled in good time and reducing disruption and stress to leaseholders.

They must inform and consult leaseholders throughout. If they don’t address these issues, responsible authorities now have the legal powers to compel them to remediate their buildings and to ensure that they meet the costs.

Alongside this, the Government has signed contracts for a new professional indemnity insurance scheme. This will help assessors conduct EWS-1 assessments to identify whether buildings have fire safety risks, thereby ensuring that professionals can make sensible decisions. Common sense and proportionality will be restored to the market.

Leaseholder protections

Measures from the Building Safety Act have been prioritised to ensure leaseholders are protected. For the first time, qualifying leaseholders living in buildings above 11 metres tall (or with at least five storeys) will be legally protected from extortionate building safety costs.

Qualifying leaseholders (ie those living in their own homes, or with up to three UK properties in total) will be protected, in full, from the costs associated with the remediation of unsafe cladding. They will also have robust and far-reaching protections from the costs associated with non-cladding defects, including interim measures such as ‘Waking Watch’.

It will be illegal for freeholders to pass on the cost of historical building repair works or the removal of cladding to any of their leaseholders, including non-qualifying leaseholders, if they are linked to the building’s developer.

It will also be illegal for freeholders to pass on any historical building safety costs to qualifying leaseholders if they pass the wealth test set out in law.

Where a developer cannot be held responsible and the building owner is not required to meet the costs in full, leaseholders with non-cladding focused issues will also be protected by a cap on how much they can pay for these costs. The cap will only apply to non-cladding work for those whose property is valued at more than £325,000 (in London) and £175,000 outside London (with owners of properties below this ceiling not required to pay anything).

Where leaseholders have bought through shared ownership, their cap will reflect their share of ownership in the property.

Any costs that are not recoverable from leaseholders will need to be met by building owners and landlords. Buyers of new build homes will be able to hold their developer responsible for safety and quality issues under a new scheme from the New Homes Ombudsman.

Other measures in the Act

There are new powers for the Secretary of State to restrict irresponsible developers’ ability to build new homes, including if they refuse to take responsibility for fixing life-critical fire safety defects on all buildings of 11 metres tall and above for which they have played a role in developing or refurbishing in the last 30 years.

The Building Safety Levy is to be charged on all new residential buildings. This is expected to raise an estimated £3 billion over ten years and will fund a new central Government scheme to pay for the removal of unsafe cladding on buildings of 11-18 metres in height where the developer cannot be traced or has failed to agree to cover the costs upfront.

Enhanced civil liabilities for building owners will enable them to launch legal action against developers, contractors and manufacturers for shoddy construction works and defective products proven to have caused homes to be deemed uninhabitable in the past 30 years.

There are going to be extra powers for the courts in England and Wales to ‘go after’ associated companies. Businesses who’ve hidden behind shadowy shell companies within their corporate structures can now be pursued for payment.

Recovery Unit

These new laws will allow the Government to consider appropriate action to pursue these companies as part of a new Recovery Unit based within the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

Further, tough regulations for the industry will enforce a higher quality of building standards, in turn ensuring homes are made safer and that a proportionate approach is taken towards safety.

A new Building Safety Regulator – overseen by the Health & Safety Executive – will enforce a new and more stringent regulatory regime on the safety and performance of high-rise buildings in scope in England. The Building Safety Regulator will also consult on – and respond to – safety concerns raised by residents through a new Residents’ Panel.

Finally, a National Regulator for Construction Products will implement stronger standards on construction manufacturers in the UK. Part of the Office for Product Safety and Standards, this new regulator will conduct vital market surveillance to pinpoint and remove unsafe materials on a faster basis, as well as confront poor practice by taking action against those who break the rules.

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2% pay offer for firefighters from national employers “utterly inadequate” states FBU 28/06/2022

FIREFIGHTERS AND firefighter control staff have responded angrily to a 2% pay offer from UK Fire and Rescue Service employers. The Fire Brigades Union’s (FBU) Executive Council has recommended an outright rejection of the pay offer put in front of the Trade Union’s members.

The offer is set against a current rate of inflation of 9.1% (CPI, year-on-year, to May 2022), with the Fire and Rescue Service annual pay award due on Friday 1 July.

The FBU has also referenced a “background of huge long-term pay cuts” to firefighters’ pay. Between 2009 and last year, the Trade Union states that firefighters’ real terms pay has been cut by 12% (or circa £4,000).

The pay offer will now be put forward for consideration by members. As stated, however, the Trade Union’s Executive Council is recommending its rejection.

Further cut

Matt Wrack, general secretary of the FBU, said: “The FBU has received a proposal from employers for a 2% increase in pay. This is utterly inadequate and would deliver a further cut in real wages to firefighters in all roles in the midst of a cost of living crisis. This latest insulting proposal follows 12 years of Government-imposed reductions in real wages.”

Wrack continued: “The proposal will anger firefighters, those working in emergency fire Control Rooms and those operating in all uniformed roles in Fire and Rescue Services across the UK. It’s galling to be insulted in this way, especially so after firefighters; contribution to public safety during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

For their part, firefighters will now inevitably begin to discuss how they’re going to respond to the pay offer, including the potential for industrial action. “The Fire Brigades Union doesn’t consider or take industrial action lightly or without ensuring that all efforts to resolve an issue have been exhausted. To that end, we will be writing to the national fire employers to inform them of the anger and frustration their proposal will create.”

Confirmation from employers

Wrack and his colleagues will also seek confirmation from employers that they have written to – and met with – Fire Minister Lord Stephen Greenhalgh to request additional funding in order to make “a realistic offer” and one which meets the urgent needs of firefighters, respects their workforce and has some prospect of being accepted by firefighters.

“Similarly,” added Wrack, “we will be writing to all of the ministers and/or Government departments responsible for Fire and Rescue Services in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland in a bid to seek urgent additional funding to enable Fire and Rescue Service employers to make a reasonable offer.”

The FBU’s members will now begin to discuss the 2% pay offer, while the Executive Council is going to reconvene shortly to discuss next steps. “We will consider all options, including strike action,” concluded Wrack.

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Welsh Government introduces leaseholder support scheme covering fire safety issues 28/06/2022

AN ALL-new support scheme devised by the Welsh Government to assist those suffering significant financial hardship as a result of fire safety issues having been identified at the buildings in which they reside was launched on Monday 27 June.

In essence, the support scheme will provide tailored and independent advice to leaseholders in affected homes. It’s currently targeted at leaseholders who are owner occupiers and those who’ve become displaced residents, but climate change minister Julie James has confirmed that applications will be monitored and eligibility kept under review to ensure “those who need support” have access to the scheme.

James commented: “The Leaseholder Support Scheme will help those who need assistance the most. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the external partners and sector experts who’ve assisted us in developing this scheme at pace. Their support and hard work has been critical to establishing the right qualifying criteria and support processes.”

All leaseholders eligible for this scheme will receive advice from an independent financial advisor, with the costs fully covered by the Welsh Government. The advice will support them in making the right choice for them and, if the sale of their property is the right route to take, the Welsh Government will enable them to sell their property at a fair market value.

Julie James went on to note: “Addressing fire safety defects in medium and high-rise buildings must go beyond cladding to make these buildings as safe as they can be. This has been our premise from the outset and, although it makes identifying, addressing and resolving issues significantly more complex, it’s the right approach to approach.”

Further, James observed: “There are no quick or easy fixes, but we cannot compromise on achieving the right sustainable solutions. Anything less leaves the door open to the risk of further issues arising. It’s important to me that, once these fire safety-related issues are resolved, they remain resolved. We must do this properly, making sure that everything’s right now and for the future.”

*Detailed guidance on the new scheme, including the eligibility criteria, has now been published on the Welsh Government’s website along with an application form

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Euralarm issues revised and expanded edition of false fire alarms study 28/06/2022

EURALARM’S DEDICATED False Alarms Task Group has issued a revised and expanded second edition of its publication entitled ‘False Alarm Study: Increase Fire Safety by Understanding False Alarms – An Analysis of False Alarms from Fire Detection and Fire Alarm Systems in Europe’.

In this new edition, which has been edited by study leader Sebastian Festag, the results and findings of the first edition have been enhanced by an analysis of the current situation pertaining in Denmark. Recommendations are included for the terms used to describe false alarm-related situations. Detail around the methods that can be used to reduce false alarms has been updated, while newer content has also been added.

Over the past 70 years, the use of automatic fire detectors has increased year-on-year for every kind of infrastructure. The application of automatic fire detection technologies has made early detection of fires the norm, at least in commercial and industrial buildings. Building occupants can safely evacuate, while Fire and Rescue Services are able to gain precious time in a bid to stop fires from spreading.

As is true of any early warning system, there can be times when an alarm is triggered even though there’s no fire event. This is termed a ‘false positive’ (ie a false alarm).

Detecting phenomena such as smoke and heat is a relatively simple process for the detection systems themselves. The true challenge for any fire detection and fire alarm system designer or service engineer, though, is making sure the right balance is struck between detection/alarm system response ‘as early as possible’ and ‘as early as needed’.

Alarm reliability

Modern detection systems are much better at tuning into a real event, while ignoring false events. When compared to former threshold-type detectors, this has significantly reduced the number of false (or unwanted) fire alarms by at least two-thirds.

That said, technology alone cannot eliminate false positives. Other key factors must be considered to increase the overall ‘alarm reliability’ of a fire detection and fire alarm system. Those factors are system design, commissioning and maintenance. If these are overlooked, then the alarm system’s reliability degrades and it will not meet its intended purpose of protecting lives and property. As a given building’s use is adapted to suit the needs of its occupants, the fire system’s design and maintenance must also be changed accordingly in order to secure the alarm system’s reliability.

Fire and Rescue Services capture the information on the cause and location of fire alarms during their intervention. It’s the responsibility of the building owner or operator to discuss false activations with their fire alarm system supplier and service provider. As part of this process, recommendations can then be made that may even heighten the quality of the system.

Sebastian Festag commented: “The origin of false alarms can usually be traced back to the building’s management and extends from planning right through to the maintenance of fire detection and fire alarm systems. The reduction in false alarm rates noted within the study shows that we are on the right track, but we need to reduce instances of false fire alarms even further.”

Study detail

Euralarm’s study is focused on the statistical data of fire alarms and based on a specific methodology in terms of that data’s collection and evaluation. Anyone studying the data of participating countries will come to the same conclusion: there is no unified approach to this issue. That greatly hinders comparisons, which are invaluable when trying to better understand the overall situation and develop effective and simple countermeasures to negate false fire alarms.

It's intended that this revised and expanded edition of the study will serve as the basis to help guide the industry and its stakeholders towards a more uniform approach right across Europe as a result of working together with the European Standardisation Technical Committee TC72 to implement a common technical language. As stated, the revised edition also contains measures for the reduction of false alarms in terms of products, planning, organisation and maintenance.

*The latest edition of ‘False Alarm Study: Increase Fire Safety by Understanding False Alarms – An Analysis of False Alarms from Fire Detection and Fire Alarm Systems in Europe’ can be ordered in printed format or as an e-Book direct from the publisher

**Euralarm is a Trade Association that represents the electronic fire and security industry across Europe, providing leadership and expertise for industry, the marketplace, policy-makers and standards bodies. Its members make society safer and more secure through the development and delivery of systems and services for fire detection and fire extinguishing as well as intrusion detection, access control, video monitoring, alarm transmission and alarm monitoring. Founded back in 1970, Euralarm represents over 5,000 companies within the fire safety and security markets valued at circa 67 billion Euros. Members are national associations and individual companies from across Europe. Additional information is available online at www.euralarm.org
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Fire sprinkler system installed at rebuilt Derbyshire school 28/06/2022

FIRE SPRINKLERS have been fitted at the £6.9 million rebuilt Ravensdale Infant School in Mickleover, Derby following the fire that destroyed the original building back in October 2020.

Just over 20 months after the Ravensdale Infant School was destroyed by fire, it’s now possible for the establishment to re-open its doors to the staff and pupils affected by the fire, safe in the knowledge that the newly rebuilt school is now protected from fire by sprinklers.

Following three devastating school fires across Derbyshire back in 2020, with two occurring only 48 hours apart, Derbyshire’s Chief Fire Officer Gavin Tomlinson called on Government to change fire safety legislation in order to protect schools from fire. In a statement issued at the time, Tomlinson noted: “I’m not sure what more evidence is needed to bring England’s legislation into line with that of Scotland and Wales where it’s mandatory for sprinklers to be fitted and for the Government here in England to take notice and, more importantly, take action. We have a responsibility to build safer schools.”

Statement of Intent

In the wake of Tomlinson’s rallying cry, Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service worked closely with both Derby City Council and Derbyshire County Council. Both signed a Statement of Intent in November 2020 committing them to fit sprinklers and the right fire safety measures in all new build schools, in addition to any primary and secondary schools undergoing significant renovation, refurbishment or extension.

Following the news that Ravensdale Infant School has reopened and that it’s now protected by sprinklers, Tomlinson observed: “I’m pleased that, following on from the commitment set out in the Statement of Intent signed by the City and County Councils, Derby City Council has honoured its commitment and ensured the fire safety of Ravensdale Infant School. Action to ensure that sprinklers were part of the new building’s design has protected the education of thousands of pupils who will attend the school for years to come and protected the local community from the devastating impact of fire.”

Tomlinson continued: “Of course, there are also huge financial benefits to be realised from ensuring that sprinklers are fitted in schools, in turn preventing costly design and rebuild projects. I would like to wish all the staff and pupils at Ravensdale Infant School well as they move into their new environment.”

Fire safety legislation

According to studies conducted by Zurich Insurance, the average fire risk for schools is almost double that of other non-residential buildings, yet legislation does not require sprinklers to be fitted as part of fire safety measures in educational buildings in England.

As mentioned, this is inconsistent with legislation in Scotland and Wales where there’s a legal requirement to fit sprinklers in all new build schools.

Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service is supporting work being conducted through the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) and the National Fire Sprinkler Network to lobby the Government for a change in legislation to Building Bulletin 100: Design for Fire Safety in Schools.

Responses to a Government consultation on BB100 were submitted and feedback was given through the NFCC on revised guidance. The outcome of that consultation has yet to be made public domain.

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Fire Safety Matters launches new Readership Survey for 2022 28/06/2022

FIRE SAFETY Matters – the leading UK magazine focused on being the independent voice for fire safety professionals and which covers in detail the latest industry news, opinion, prosecutions, regulation and standards updates in addition to sector products, services and technology – has just launched a new Readership Survey.

In addition to publishing in print four times each year, Fire Safety Matters – which is the Lead Media Partner for The Fire Safety Event organised by Nineteen Group and also publishes the UK Guide to Fire Safety in conjunction with the Fire Industry Association – also produces a monthly podcast, issues a weekly eNews bulletin every Tuesday and, in partnership with sister title Security Matters, runs the annual Fire and Security Matters Awards.

Further, the magazine – which is published by Western Business Media Ltd – is the only title in the UK fire market whose circulation is independently audited and verified by the Audit Bureau of Circulations. The latest period that has been certified is January to December 2021, for which the magazine attained a verified average circulation of 16,749 per issue.

Take part in the Readership Survey

The team at Fire Safety Matters magazine – comprising Editor Brian Sims, sales manager Leanne Velez and Western Business Media Ltd’s CEO Mark Sennett – would now like to invite you, our highly valued readers, to take part in a short Readership Survey.

Your views and opinions are hugely important and, going forward, will enable us to continue to produce industry-leading news and features content within Fire Safety Matters and its associated products in print and online.

We really do value your opinions, so if you could take a few minutes of your time to complete this Readership Survey (which runs to 17 questions) we would be very grateful. Your views will be treated in the strictest confidential and individuals’ views will not be shared with any third parties.

As a ‘Thank You’ for taking part, all respondents will be entered into a prize draw to win a £100 Amazon voucher. You will need to enter your contact details on the last question should you wish to be entered into the prize draw.

*Take part in the Fire Safety Matters 2022 Readership Survey by accessing Survey Monkey

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Shepherd’s Bush high-rise flat fire prompts safety warning from LFB 28/06/2022

FIREFIGHTERS HAVE issued an urgent e-bike safety warning following a serious blaze at a block of flats in London’s Shepherd’s Bush on Wednesday 22 June. At the height of the incident, 60 firefighters were tackling the fire that occurred in a 12th floor flat. Fire crews led six people to safety and one man was taken to hospital.

The London Fire Brigade’s (LFB) fire investigators have determined the blaze was accidental and caused by the failure of an e-bike’s lithium-ion battery. Indeed, London’s firefighters have witnessed a huge spike in e-bike and e-scooter incidents as the latter have become more popular in recent years and have issued several warnings about how ferocious the resulting fires can be.

This year, crews have already attended 32 fires involving e-bikes and another seven involving e-scooters. So far in 2022, there have been a further 17 fires involving other forms of lithium-ion batteries. Last year, there were upwards of 100 fires in the capital involving lithium-ion batteries.

Rise in incidents

Charlie Pugsley, the Brigade’s assistant commissioner for fire safety, said: “It’s incredibly concerning that we are continuing to see a rise in incidents involving e-bikes. When the lithium-ion batteries and chargers fail, they do so with ferocity and, because the fires develop so rapidly, the situation can quickly become incredibly serious. e-bikes and e-scooters are often stored in communal areas and corridors and can block people’s only means of escape.”

Pugsley continued: “Another issue with fires involving lithium-ion batteries, and which we witnessed at this latest fire, is that, when they fail, they eject their contents over a wide area, which can lead to multiple areas of burning in the room where the fire has started.”

The Brigade’s investigators have determined that many of the e-bike incidents have involved e-bike conversion kits (used to convert a standard push bike into an electric bike) rather than purpose-built e-bikes. These only provide the motors and control gear, but batteries for conversion kits must be sourced separately.

Significant risk

Pugsley observed: “There is a significant risk posed by e-bikes created through conversion. We are predominantly seeing fires in ones which have been purchased from online marketplaces and with batteries sourced on the Internet. The latter may not meet the correct safety standards. Lithium-ion batteries are susceptible to failure if incorrect chargers are used.”

He added: “Our advice is to try and store and charge these items in a safe location if possible, such as in a shed or a garage. If they have to be stored inside, make sure smoke detection systems are fitted and that means of escape are not obstructed. We know this will not be possible for everyone, so if e-bikes are being charged indoors, it’s always best to adopt safe charging and ensure that everyone in residence knows what to do in the event of a fire.”

Follow LFB advice

A spokesperson from Hammersmith and Fulham Borough Council explained: “We are grateful to the Emergency Services for their speedy response on this incident. We urge all residents to follow the London Fire Brigade’s advice when charging e-scooters and e-bikes at home. These batteries and chargers, often bought unregulated on the Internet, are highly dangerous and expose people to unacceptable risk. We will be looking to take robust measures to ban charging inside Hammersmith and Fulham Borough Council-run accommodation and seek the Government’s assistance
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AEI Cables outlines technical guidance on Category 3 Control fire performance cables 23/06/2022

AEI CABLES has outlined the technical guidance available to those responsible in the supply chain for the selection and installation of cables for Category 3 Control fire performance cables under the revised British Standard.

The industry-wide campaign is raising awareness worldwide of the dangers of not using approved cabling as specified under the revised version of BS 8519: 2020, the Code of Practice for Category 3 Fire Performance Cables.

Industry bodies supporting the campaign include Electrical Safety First and the Institution of Fire Prevention Officers.

The systems powered by these cables – including smoke and heat extraction systems – assist Fire and Rescue Services in firefighting and a safe evacuation process. Category 3 Control fire performance cables reduce harmful smoke, toxic gases and flame spread in the event of a real fire taking hold.

Typical applications

The application of Category 3 Control fire performance cables applies to evacuation alarms for the disabled in care homes, emergency voice communication systems and voice alarm systems in relevant buildings (among them tall buildings, office spaces, hospitals, Shopping Centres and stadiums).

The new Code of Practice informs and guides designers, contractors, fire engineers, regulators and enforcers including building control bodies, fire authorities, Health and Safety inspectors and equipment suppliers and manufacturers. It guides (and recommends) on the selection (and installation) of fire-resistant power and control cable systems that need to maintain their circuit integrity for life safety and firefighting.

The Code of Practice is primarily intended for use in those buildings which, due to their size, height, form or use require the installation of life safety and firefighting systems (eg sprinkler pumps, wet riser pumps, smoke control systems, firefighting and evacuation lifts or other systems as required by a fire engineering strategy).

Electrical distribution systems

BS 8519:2020 makes reference to the recommendations of BS 9999 and BS 9991 on the design and installation of the electrical distribution systems for life safety and firefighting equipment. It also refers to three categories of circuits required to maintain their integrity under defined fire conditions for varying fire survival times of 30 minutes, 60 minutes and 120 minutes.

Appropriate cable tests are identified for each cable category derived from applicable British Standards assessing cable performance under conditions of fire as might be expected in an actual fire incident.

BS 8519:2020 also aims to ensure that the level of circuit fire integrity is not compromised by other components of the whole electrical distribution system, including cable glands, terminations, joints and cable support systems.

By incorporating this guidance into the selection of cabling for these critical systems, those using new buildings can move about in the knowledge that they are going to be safe in doing so.

Lives and property at stake

Stuart Dover, general manager of AEI Cables, informed Fire Safety Matters: “If these systems fail because the cable is not able to function properly then the consequences are apparent. Lives and property are at stake here. Category 3 Control fire performance cables reduce harmful smoke, toxic gases and flame spread in the event of a real fire.”

Dover added: “We have seen a lot of support for our message and our customers are seeing the peace of mind of installing approved cables, which themselves provide continuity of power for these systems.”

For its part, AEI Cables is the only supplier in the UK with independent approval from the Loss Prevention Certification Board (LPCB) for BS 8519 Category 3 Control fire performance cables with a fire survival time of up to 120 minutes.

AEI Cables’ Firetec enhanced cabling has been approved and certified by the LPCB to BS 8519 (Annex B) Category 3 Control in addition to Category 2 Control.

The Code of Practice under BS 8519 contains six categories of cables – three for power cables and three for control cables – each covering survival times of 30, 60 or 120 minutes.

*For more information visit the AEI Cables website at www.aeicables.co.uk

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SFJ Awards certificates 2022 Women in the Fire Service UK training and development event 23/06/2022

SFJ AWARDS, the UK Fire and Rescue Services’ qualifications partner of choice, certificated the 2022 Women in the Fire Service UK training and development event free of charge in a gesture of support for the not-for- profit organisation’s commitment to raising skills and increasing gender equality.

The event, which took place over the course of three days at the Fire Service College in Moreton-in-Marsh, saw women representing Fire and Rescue Services from across the country attend a series of expert-led workshops that covered a range of contemporary issues.

Delegates deepened their understanding of everything from mental health and racial equality through to hazmat incidents and fire safety in commercial buildings. Among others, the event was facilitated by Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service’s Jenny Nangle and London Fire Brigade’s Shilla Patel.

SFJ Awards’ involvement provides free, independent recognition for delegates attending a range of workshops, each designed to enhance learning and benefit delegates in their future careers.

Admirer and supporter

Candace Miller, executive director of SFJ Awards, explained: “We are a long-time admirer and supporter of Women in the Fire Service UK and its work aimed at enabling women to enter and thrive in the many fantastic careers available in the Fire and Rescue Services.”

Miller continued: “To achieve gender equality in the Fire and Rescue Services, it’s vital to create learning and development opportunities such as this. We’re delighted to support this annual event, which has returned after a two-year hiatus due to the onset of COVID-19.”

In addition, Miller stated: “The programme is unique in that it provides a safe space for learners to share their experiences and exchange ideas, while also acquiring solid evidence of quality learning for ongoing career development.”

Equality agenda

Established in the 1990s as a self-help group, Women in the Fire Service UK holds a seat on the Fire Sector Federation and takes an active role in influencing the equality agenda by, for example, its involvement in pioneering research into fire kit that’s fit for females and supporting positive action initiatives in partnership with Government and relevant stakeholders.

Caroline Anderson is Fire and Rescue Service crew manager at the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue and vice-chair of Women in the Fire Service UK. Anderson observed: “Working with SFJ Awards has been such a positive experience. It’s such a pleasure to collaborate with Candace and her team to champion the role and work of women in the Fire and Rescue Services.”

Further, Anderson stated: “As a leading provider of fire sector qualifications, we are delighted that SFJ Awards decided to support us again this year through the provision of ‘Certificates of Attendance’ for a number of workshops at the 20th national training and development event. We have similar aims and ambitions when it comes to increasing confidence, raising skills and standards and supporting individuals and their roles in the sector.”

Inclusive membership

Members of Women in the Fire Service UK are of all genders and emanate from all roles across the Fire and Rescue Service. Those involved include firefighters and control staff, administrative and support staff and senior officers through to members of airport, defence and works-related fire services.

*Further information on Women in the Fire Service UK is available online at www.wfs.org.uk

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