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Euralarm Task Group extends residential fire safety-focused database 28/11/2022

LAST YEAR, Euralarm’s Task Group on Domestic Life Safety was reactivated and began its work on examining the important issue of fire safety in the domestic environment. During the recent European Fire Safety Week, which focused on citizen safety at the heart of the energy transition, Task Group chair Thorsten Teichert spoke about the progress that has been made.

Why did the Task Group resume its work again? The answer is a simple one. In addition to 5,000 deaths per year due to residential fires, more than 2.7 million individuals end up in Emergency Departments due to the impact of fire.

Aside from fire, people are also exposed to other risks in their homes. Carbon monoxide poisoning from malfunctioning burners in boilers is one example. Further, in recent years homes have become increasingly ‘intelligent’ due to the emergence of new technology, but some of that technology can be dangerous from a fire safety perspective.

Research has shown that, three decades ago, residents had 17 minutes to escape their homes in the event of a fire. As today’s homes – and the furniture within them – tend to burn at a faster rate, that escape time is now only a few minutes.

Looking at the theme of the European Fire Safety Week, with the ‘Renovation Wave’ travelling across Europe to realise a climate-neutral building stock, it’s now of the utmost importance that fire safety measures are integrated within the directives guiding this development.

Useful database

To properly ensure domestic life safety, be it fire safety or protection against carbon monoxide poisoning poisoning, it’s necessary to develop and nurture a good overview of all related standards.

On that note, Thorsten Teichert explained: “Over the past year, we have fully updated the database with information about standards, legislation, national application guidelines and statistical data focused on residential buildings. The database now covers all European Union Member States as well as the EEA states (ie Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) and other affiliated or associated states, among them Switzerland and the UK.”

Teichert continued: “The database is not only targeted at smoke alarms, but also carbon monoxide alarms. That makes it somewhat more difficult to populate, of course, simply because some countries don’t have data available on the latter. There are even data available on the causes of domestic fires in the Nordic countries. This could also become part of the database, but this would require an extension. A decision on whether or how intensively we will look at the statistics on fires, fire injuries and fire deaths in 2023 has not yet been made.”

According to Teichert, the major challenge now is the diversity of the available data. “One year ago,” he noted, “we started by gathering data and updating the database. Thanks to the work that everybody has done and the collaboration between all group members, we’ve succeeded in that task. We now have to decide what our next steps will be and decide if we’re able to make steps forward at present considering the time that our members have available to them.”

European Fire Safety Week

The Euralarm Task Group actively supported the European Fire Safety Week that ran from 14-17 November. The last day of the European Fire Safety Week was designated as the Smoke Alarm Day.

Although the type of – and extent of requirements around – smoke alarm in use tends to vary across countries and regions, smoke alarms are mandatory in residential housing in the UK, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, the Netherlands, France, Ireland, Austria, Belgium and Germany.

To promote the regular checking of smoke alarms, it’s the Nordic countries who organise the Smoke Alarm Day.

It’s a valuable initiative that Euralarm is happy to support. “The Domestic Life Safety Task Group is actively involved in the preparation of part of the programme,” explained Teichert. “Both the European Fire Safety Alliance and the Domestic Life Safety Task Group are involved in raising awareness on the topic of fire safety and influencing stakeholders to make the right decisions when it comes to legislation.”

Leadership and expertise

As an organisation, Euralarm represents the electronic fire and security industries, providing leadership and expertise for these sectors, their markets, policy-makers and standards bodies.

Euralarm’s members serve to make society safer and more secure through the provision of systems and services aimed at fire detection and extinguishing, intrusion detection, access control, video monitoring and alarm.

Founded back in 1970, Euralarm now represents over 5,000 companies within the fire safety and security industries valued at circa 67 billion Euros. Its members are national associations and individual companies emanating from across Europe.

*More information is available online at www.euralarm.org

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FIA Guide to the UK Fire Safety Industry wins major award 29/11/2022

THE ANNUAL Fire Industry Association (FIA) Guide to the UK Fire Safety Industry, which is published by Fire Safety Matters magazine, has won a major award at the Professional Publishers Association’s Independent Publisher Awards 2022. We are delighted to reveal that the FIA Guide has won the Commercial Partnership of the Year Award.

The FIA Guide was published for the first time in December 2021 and acts as an annual publication, which provides key insights into the UK’s fire sector and incorporates the findings of the FIA’s Market Conditions Review, which itself examines current trends within the fire industry.

It also includes Case Studies and Best Practice, while in parallel introducing the latest innovations in the sector.

Great honour

Commenting on the award win, FIA CEO Ian Moore said: “It is a great honour for the Fire Industry Association (FIA) to win the PPA Award for the FIA Guide in collaboration with Fire Safety Matters. It was a real joint effort to produce this document and is a testament to our productive and valuable working relationship. We are glad that the FIA Guide, which serves as an informative document, has been recognised for the value it brings to the fire safety industry.”

Moore continued: “For us, the FIA Guide is a fantastic way in which to communicate with our members and the wider industry. It informs them of the work we undertake in our Councils, such as producing guidance and contributing to standards, and of the training that continues to improve the competency of fire safety professionals. It also includes detail about how our membership team supports the FIA’s members. If you have any questions about how the FIA can help you, please contact us via e-mail at info@fia.uk.com.”

Moore added: “Finally, I would like to personally thank the staff of the FIA who are all subject matter experts in their field and worked tirelessly on producing this high quality and informative guide. In the coming weeks, we are looking forward to delivering the 2022-2023 FIA Guide in conjunction with Fire Safety Matters.”

Proud of the partnership

Western Business Media’s CEO Mark Sennett stated: “We are thrilled to have won this award and very proud of our partnership with the FIA. A lot of hard work goes into producing the FIA Guide and it’s a real team effort. We couldn’t have done it without the fantastic support of our readers, advertisers and contributors. Thank You to all who supported the FIA Guide and we are excited that the FIA Guide 2022-2023 is about to be delivered to all FIA members and the readers of Fire Safety Matters.”

*Read the FIA Guide to the UK Fire Safety Industry 2021-2022 online by visiting the Fire Safety Matters website

**The FIA Guide to the UK Fire Safety Industry 2022-2023 is now available to view online

***If your business is an FIA member company and you would like to be included in the 2022-2023 edition of the FIA Guide, please contact Leanne Velez on 07818 574309 or send an e-mail: lvelez@westernbusiness.media

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London Fire Commissioner “takes immediate action” in response to stinging culture review 29/11/2022

THE LONDON Fire Brigade (LFB) has published the outcome report of an Independent Culture Review led by Nazir Afzal OBE, which was commissioned last year by the Commissioner with the support of Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London. Afzal and his team heard the experiences of over 2,000 current and former staff and members of the public, including members of the Grenfell Tower community in North Kensington.

Sadly, the report contains accounts of “shockingly poor” behaviour and “painful” experiences across many years. Despite ongoing work transacted by the Brigade to improve equality, diversity and inclusion, the report “lays bare” failings in the Brigade’s processes, which mean that women, Black, Asian and minority ethnic people and members of the LGBT+ community have been more likely to experience poor treatment and fair less well in their career.

Further, the report confirms that the disadvantage and discrimination affecting Brigade staff does not translate into its operations and does not impact on the way in which the Brigade prevents and responds to incidents.

London Fire Commissioner Andy Roe has announced immediate action in response to the testimonies, analysis and recommendations from the review as part of a long-term programme designed to improve the Brigade’s culture.

Roe observed: “This is a very sobering day. There is no place for discrimination, harassment and bullying in the Brigade and, from now, it will be completely clear to all staff what behaviour isn’t acceptable and what the consequences will be. I’m deeply sorry for the harm that has been caused. I will be fully accountable for improving our culture and I fully accept all of the 23 recommendations outlined in the review report.”

Immediate changes

The Brigade is making immediate changes to provide increased protection for its staff. Anyone accused of discrimination, harassment and bullying will be suspended following a risk assessment pending immediate investigation and dismissed if the accusation is upheld.

The report highlights a lack of confidence in the Brigade’s current complaints procedure and shows that staff haven’t felt safe in speaking up. Following the outcome of the review, the Brigade is introducing an External Complaints Service while internal processes are improved. Staff will be able to use the service to report poor behaviour rather than having to report it internally.

What’s more, the Commissioner has introduced immediate changes to the Brigade’s approach to leadership. In the report, the Brigade’s leadership is described as “disconnected and divided” in its commitment to change and it’s noted that leadership doesn’t always display the behaviours asked of the staff.

Roe has made it absolutely clear that leaders who do not value transparency, accountability and fairness will not have a place in the Brigade going forward. All leaders will be undertaking inclusivity training, which has already begun. From next month, senior leaders will be visiting every watch and team to talk to staff about the review.

New central hub

The Brigade provides an essential emergency response and staff are frequently exposed to traumatic incidents. The report details that more support is needed for their mental health. As a result, LFB staff will now have access to help and support quickly whenever they need it. A new central hub is being created on the LFB’s Intranet specifically for mental health support. This will provide staff with access to 24/7 support in a crisis, as well as access to the Brigade’s counselling and trauma support.

The Commissioner continued: “This report highlights many issues within the Brigade, and it also highlights examples of completely unacceptable behaviour from some of our staff when dealing with the public. These staff jeopardise not just the trust placed in us, but also the safety of those who might now be dissuaded from requesting our help. We are introducing the use of body-worn cameras for staff to provide the necessary reassurance.”

Roe went on to state: “The big changes we’ve already made, and will continue to make, are needed to ensure we protect the people and communities who have suffered poor treatment. I also want to ensure a safe, modern workplace for the dedicated, public-spirited people at the Brigade who are rightly horrified by what this review has uncovered.”

“Horrified” by what this review process has uncovered, Roe asserted: “We will challenge poor behaviour and do everything required to rebuild trust with our people and the communities we are here to serve. We will root out the individuals, systems and behaviours that discriminate against others and let the rest of us down.”

In conclusion, Roe said: “I hope these immediate changes will demonstrate that we understand the gravity of these issues and have immediately improved protection for our staff and the public. We have a huge amount to do in order to improve the working environment of our staff and rebuild trust with the public. I know that change can take time, but that vital change begins now.”

“Disturbing and difficult information”

Mark Hardingham, chair of the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC), said: “The NFCC is committed to supporting all aspects of the development of UK Fire and Rescue Services, including culture and professionalism. The Independent Culture Review of the LFB contains disturbing and difficult information. We support the LFB for recognising the need and commissioning this work as a positive step on a long and difficult, but vitally important journey.”

Hardingham continued: “We need to take the time to consider the report in full, but clearly the findings are wholly unacceptable of an inclusive and modern blue light Emergency Service. I’m clear that there is no place for harassment, bullying or discrimination in any Fire and Rescue Service.”

The NFCC’s chair knows that the LFB has already accepted the recommendations in full and will be taking immediate action in response, while also ensuring the long-term consideration of the cultural findings.

“We will be studying the report and its recommendations carefully and considering them in the context of every Fire and Rescue Service in the UK,” asserted Hardingham. “We have a clear Core Code of Ethics and equality, diversity and inclusion are woven throughout the standards, products and guidance we provide for Fire and Rescue Services. We will be redoubling efforts here. This will include looking at each of the report’s recommendations to consider how they will influence the future work of the NFCC itself.”

Response from the FBU

Gareth Cook, the Fire Brigades Union’s (FBU) regional organiser for London, has issued a detailed response to the Independent Culture Review.

“The LFB report makes for difficult reading,” suggested Cook. “The reported incidents of racism and misogyny are extremely alarming. There is no place for such behaviour or attitudes within the Fire and Rescue Service or, indeed, within our Trade Union.”

The FBU encompasses organised sections for black and ethnic minority members, for women members and also for LGBT members. These sections were created because of discrimination, harassment and inequality within the industry and the Trade Union. Cook has affirmed that the FBU will ensure its equality sections are fully involved in any fuller response to this LFB report.

“The FBU has policies in place to address issues of discrimination and harassment. After due process, this can include the removal of representation from individuals accused of such acts. It can also include disciplinary processes through the FBU itself. Both have been implemented in such cases in the recent past. We shall review the effectiveness of our rules and policies in the light of issues raised and in response to issues we have identified ourselves.”

Along with other Trade Unions, the FBU is already engaged in major work on the issue of sexual harassment. This includes issues in the workplace and also, if identified, within the organisation itself. “We have been working on this matter with the Trades Union Congress and with the FBU’s Women’s Section for some time now and will bring forward changes to policies and structures as required.”

Confirmed concerns

Cook said: “There are elements of this report which confirm concerns raised by the FBU over many years. There are also elements of the report which will cause considerable concern and alarm. We will need to study those areas carefully and respond more fully.”

The review highlights that morale and engagement in the LFB are low. 40% of those who were interviewed expressed frustration in their job. Staff shortages, poor workforce planning, no leave availability, poor work-life balance and low recognition are cited. The review also finds there’s a need for increased trauma specialism and mental health awareness. For the FBU, the findings of poor morale and a need for better mental health structures are highly linked.

Importantly, the review also acknowledges the pay restraints placed on FBU members through “years” of pay neglect.

The review has found that staff are afraid of the consequences of speaking out as they fear the repercussions. “That is entirely unacceptable and must change,” noted Cook, who continued: “Our rules and policies require every FBU member to treat others with dignity and respect and to challenge offensive behaviour of any kind. The Trade Union is committed to equality. We campaign against all discrimination by gender, race or ethnicity, sexuality, age, disability and religion or belief. We have a long track record of campaigning on such issues.”

Degree of scepticism

According to Cook, the FBU has raised concerns about many of the issues contained within this report on a historical basis and, as a consequence, “remains sceptical” about the changes senior leaders will implement with regards to their own behaviours.

For its part, the London region of the FBU is committed to working to address these serious concerns. “We aim to improve the working conditions of our members and protect them from discrimination and unfair or illegal treatment by representing them in the workplace. We are committed to building strong relationships between firefighters and local communities in all their diversity.

We will continue to review the report as we look to build a full and detailed understanding of it.”

*Read the Independent Culture Review in full online by visiting the London Fire Brigade website

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Insurer Zurich issues warning over “dramatic spike” in warehouse fires 29/11/2022

ZURICH UK is calling for compulsory sprinkler installations in warehouses as retailers hit their busiest time of the year. According to research and analysis conducted by the insurer, the number of warehouse and bulk storage fires has soared by a quarter (ie 26%) over 2021-2022.

There were 322 such blazes over the period, according to Home Office data, compared to 256 during 2020-2021. The number of accidental fires climbed by 21% (from 228 to 276), while somewhat more worryingly the number of deliberate blazes increased by almost two-thirds (up 64% from 28 to 46).

The e-commerce boom of recent years has driven demand for increased warehouse space. However, a lack of new builds has forced developers to look at older buildings, which themselves pose a greater risk of fire. In the first half of this year, demand for sites over 100,000 ft2 was up 25% on the five-year average. That’s according to JLL.

Meanwhile, intensified demand for same and next-day deliveries has led to an increase in smaller ‘last-mile’ warehouses located closer to urban centres. In addition, the demand for taller and larger ‘big box’-style warehouses with more tightly packed goods has also risen.

Despite the increased risk, of the 3,400 warehouse blazes attended by fire crews between 2010 and 2021, half (49%, in fact) did not have fire alarms and just over 6% benefited from the installation of sprinkler systems.

Compulsory protection

Zurich is renewing its call for automatic sprinkler protection to be made compulsory in all new warehouses over 2,000 m2 in area. At present, Government guidance only recommends sprinklers in warehouses of more than 20,000 m2. This contrasts with the situation in Europe, where sprinklers are required in sites as small as 800 m2.

Charles Bush, Zurich’s head of property and energy claims, observed: “Warehouses have grown in size in recent years, meaning that fires now lead to much bigger losses. However, fire safety regulation has failed to keep pace with the increased demand for space. Britain’s fast-growing e-commerce economy is entirely dependent on safe warehouses, and the Government must act now to ensure they are fit for purpose.”

A spokesperson from the London Fire Brigade added: “The benefits of sprinklers to businesses are clear and we would urge all companies to install them. As well as being potentially life-saving devices, sprinklers and other fire suppression systems help with business continuity by minimising disruption and allowing businesses to return to normal as soon as possible.”

Zurich’s ‘Call to Action’ comes at a time of high inflation when businesses are more likely to have gaps in their insurance cover. Increases to material and labour costs mean that rebuilding fire-damaged warehouses and replacing lost stock may now exceed the amount covered by their owners’ insurance policies. This means that, in the event of a blaze, their pay out may not be enough to cover all of the damages.

As a result, Zurich is urging firms to double-check their policies in order to ensure they have the correct amount of cover in place.

Bush continued: “Often, the issue of underinsurance only becomes apparent once the worst has already happened. With the busy Christmas period fast approaching, it’s essential that firms check they have the right cover in place to protect them. The cost of doing so will be minuscule compared to the potential shortfall if they’re underinsured.”

Avoiding underinsurance

*Ask your broker to review your policy to ensure that it will still be adequate in the event of a claim

*Ensure that your business interruption insurance is fit for purpose, taking into account any supply chain disruptions that may affect a rebuild or repairs (business interruption indemnity periods are commonly found to be inadequate, which can mean claims payments cease before a customer has had the chance to recover)

An effective business continuity plan can make a big difference to the size of losses, as well as to firms’ ability to continue trading. By having plans in place to minimise loss and recover more quickly, companies can actively reduce the risk of underinsurance.

Many businesses hold higher levels of stock during busier times of the year. To avoid underinsurance, sums insured should always be set at the maximum potential value that could be held at any one time.

Index-linked policies are not immune to underinsurance. Index-linking works on a countrywide average and cannot account for the wide range of factors particular to each claim. Index-linking should, therefore, not be used as a substitute for thorough annual reviews and regular professional valuations.

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Winners of 2022 Passive Fire Protection Awards unveiled by ASFP 29/11/2022

THE ASSOCIATION for Specialist Fire Protection (ASFP) has announced the winners of its 2022 Passive Fire Protection Awards. The awards ceremony took place on Friday 25 November at the Park Regis Hotel in Birmingham.

Each award is designed to recognise excellence within the passive fire protection industry at the company and individual level. The 2022 event witnessed the introduction of three brand new awards focused on Best Customer Service, Marketing Campaign of the Year and Highest Member Engagement of the Year (with the ASFP). Those new awards have been introduced to improve access and increase diversity.

Passive Fire Protection Project/Installation of the Year

Awarded to an ASFP member company deemed to have undertaken the best installation project across the year

Winner: Coopers Fire (Battersea Power Station)

Shortlisted Finalists: Encon Insulation (Equinix LD7.2 Data Centre) and Sharpfibre (Sellindge Converter Station)

Passive Fire Protection Innovation of the Year

Awarded to an ASFP member company boasting an exceptional example of an innovative passive fire protection product or service

Winner: Fire Protection Ltd (for FPLHV, a fire-resisting high voltage cable)

Shortlisted Finalists: Ceasefire Global (composite FD30 fire door range) and Phoenix Green UK (primary walkway fire protection)

Marketing Campaign of the Year

Awarded to a member company of the ASFP that has delivered an effective marketing campaign to really catch the eye of the industry and demonstrate passive fire protection Best Practice

Winner: Minster (for the ‘Spread the Word’ campaign)

Shortlisted Finalists: Firefly and FSi

Training and Development of the Year

Awarded to an ASFP member company or individual who, throughout the year of 2022, has completed multiple courses/training, in turn developing their team or themselves as a fire safety professional

Winner: Quelfire

Shortlisted Finalists: Etex and Minster

Highest Member Engagement of the Year

Recognises an ASFP member company or individual who has used the ASFP benefits and services to the fullest extent, taking part in marketing campaigns, events, committees and training

Winner: Siderise Insulation

Shortlisted Finalists: CCF and Checkmate Fire

Best Customer Service

Awarded to an ASFP member company or individual best demonstrating the importance of customer service and going above and beyond for customers

Winner: Alec Purdie TIFireE (Quelfire)

Shortlisted Finalists: Neo and Siderise Insulation

Passive Fire Protection Advocate of the Year

Open to all involved in fire safety in the built environment, this award aims to reward a non-member who can demonstrate that they are a major advocate for high quality installed passive fire protection systems

Winner: Will Pitt (Laing O’Rourke)

Individual Rising Star of the Year

Recognises an individual who has shown exceptional potential in a short period of time in the industry (ie less than five years)

Winner: Molly Callaway (TBL Fire Protection Ltd)

Shortlisted Finalists: Aadam Khan (Ceasefire Global) and Harvey Brown (Etex)

ASFP Academic Achievement Award (Level 2) (Sponsored by Consort Insurance)

Winner: Rhea Akiens

ASFP Academic Achievement Award (Level 3) (Sponsored by Encon and Nevill Long)

Winner: Malcolm Williams (Quelfire)

Lifetime Contribution Award

The Lifetime Contribution Award is bestowed upon an individual who has demonstrated exceptional practice over a significant period of 20-plus years. This individual will have made an impact on people, organisations or companies and displayed wisdom and depth of service/leadership

Winner: Carl Atkinson (IDFC)

Nominees: Neville White (Encon), Nigel Morrey (Etex) and Mike Floyd/Mike Harrison (Fire Protection Association)

Awards were also presented to the longest serving ASFP member companies at three levels: Gold, Silver and Bronze. The recipients were as follows:

Gold (40 years): Ceasefire Global, Etex, Rockwool, Nillifire and Warringtonfire

Silver (30 years): Sherwin Williams, GCP, Mirie, Fireshield and International

Bronze (20 years): SIG, FSi, Siderise Insultion, Sharpfibre, Exyte, Hilti, Fire Protection Ltd, British Gypsum, Morgan, Altex Coatings, Firesafe Installations and PPG

Highlighting excellence

Offering his congratulations to all of the winners and shortlisted finalists, ASFP CEO Steve Davies explained: “The ASFP’s Passive Fire Protection Awards aim to highlight excellence in passive fire protection and reward all those who improve and develop the sector either through company innovation or individual accomplishment.”

Davies added: “As has been the case in past years, all the entries were of the very highest standard and clearly demonstrate the excellent work, expertise, professionalism and commitment of our members.”

*The Passive Fire Protection Awards were presented by special guest speaker Mandy Hickson, a former Royal Air Force pilot who was one of the UK's first female fast jet pilots

**The nominated charity for the event was The Children’s Burns Trust (www.cbtrust.org.uk)

*** For additional information on the work of the ASFP and for passive fire protection advice in general visit www.asfp.org.uk
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Leaseholder ordered to pay over £3,000 by Cwmbran Magistrates’ Court 29/11/2022

LEASEHOLDER ABDUL Miah has been ordered to pay the sum of £3,021 for failing to respond to information requests made by the South Wales Fire and Rescue Authority relating to breaches of fire safety at the Misbah Tandoori Restaurant on Priory Street in Monmouth.

In June last year, business fire safety officers from the South Wales Fire and Rescue Service conducted an inspection at the Misbah Tandoori Restaurant. That inspection process identified inadequate fire safety provisions at the premises, which duly resulted in an Enforcement Notice being issued under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and detailing the necessary remedial work required to make the premises safe.

An investigation was undertaken by officers of the South Wales Fire and Rescue Service’s compliance team whereupon Miah was identified as the leaseholder of the premises. Throughout the investigation, requests were made for information relating to ire safety provisions within the premises. These requests were continually ignored and by the South Wales Fire and Rescue Authority had no option but to pursue the matter through the courts.

Miah was subsequently summoned to attend Cwmbran Magistrates’ Court on 24 November 2022. Miah pleaded guilty to three offences under Article 27 of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and was then fined a total of £3,021 including costs.

This fine could have been avoided if Miah had simply responded with the required information. The investigation into the fire safety contraventions at the premises is still ongoing.

John Towell, head of business fire safety for the South Wales Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Our role is to enforce fire safety legislation in premises that fall within the scope of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and ensure that these premises are safe. We do so by working with businesses across South Wales to support them in protecting their businesses from risk. In this instance, we went out of our way to seek out basic information to enable us to follow legal protocols.”

Towell continued: “The court viewed this matter to be so serious that they imposed the fine. The fines and costs are solely attributed to the failure to provide information. This is a clear message to members of the business community that they need to respond to formal requests from Fire and Rescue Services.”

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Non-compliant Warrington landlord prosecuted over Prohibition Order 22/11/2022

WARRINGTON BOROUGH Council has brought a successful prosecution against Yousaf Younas of Cartier Close in Warrington, who had not complied with a legal Health and Safety notice on a property he owned in the town.

Specifically, Younas had failed to comply with a Prohibition Order served on him with respect to the privately rented property at 58 Fitzherbert Street. The Prohibition Order negated the use of a ground floor bedroom adjacent to the kitchen at the premises due to “serious fire safety concerns” and required works to be carried out before it could be occupied once again.

After the Prohibition Order was served, inspecting officers found the bedroom in use by a couple with a young baby. Younas had failed to take any action to prevent the use of the bedroom or to carry out any works recommended by Warrington Borough Council to reduce the fire risk posed.

On Wednesday 26 October, the case was heard at Warrington Magistrates’ Court. Younas entered a guilty plea.

Hitesh Patel, Warrington Borough Council's cabinet member for the environment, housing and public protection, said: “This successful prosecution serves as a warning to other landlords that we will not hesitate to prosecute those who fail to comply with legal notices and don’t take the Health and Safety of their tenants seriously.”
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BMRA: “Government must introduce kerbside collections for lithium-ion batteries” 22/11/2022

THE GOVERNMENT needs to introduce dedicated kerbside collections for unwanted lithium-ion batteries and waste electrical equipment before someone is seriously injured or even killed, asserts the British Metals Recycling Association (BMRA).

The BMRA suggests the Government should instruct local councils to carry out kerbside collections where people could also discard single-use vapes. The change is needed, asserts the BMRA, because the waste and recycling sector is witnessing an ever-increasing number of fires caused by such items.

This warning comes just days after the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, outlined his concerns at surging cases being dealt with by firefighters in the capital. In many instances, the fire crews involved found the blazes could be linked to batteries being used in e-scooters.

Out of the equation

Antonia Grey, head of policy and public affairs at the BMRA, observed: “Householders need to be taken out of the equation as far as possible when it comes to the disposal of single-use vapes and waste electrical and electronic equipment. The Government needs to introduce kerbside collections and must do so before someone is seriously injured or even killed.”

Grey continued: “The waste and recycling sector is seeing an ever-increasing number of fires caused by waste electrical and electronic equipment, including single-use vapes, after they've been put in either the recycling bin or the residual black bin. If damaged when being processed, a lithium-ion battery can explode and cause a fire or even lead to electrocution.”

A recent study carried out by Materials Focus found that more than 600 fires in bin lorries and recycling centres have been caused by batteries, often those hidden inside waste electrical and electronic equipment.

Separately, the Environmental Services Association has found lithium-ion batteries are responsible for circa 200 (ie 48%) of all waste fires occurring in the UK each year, which is costing around £158 million per annum.

Little understanding

Antonia Grey went on to state: “There is currently little understanding among the general public as to the dangers posed by incorrectly disposing of lithium-ion batteries and waste electrical and electronic equipment containing batteries, or indeed how they should be recycled. The problem is made worse still by the lack of information about recycling these items and the need for the householder to take lithium-ion batteries and waste electrical and electronic equipment containing batteries to a recycling point rather than have it collected by local authorities.”

Earlier this month, Sadiq Khan voiced “serious safety concerns” about lithium-ion batteries used in privately owned e-scooters and touched on the subject of online conversion kits. Khan’s warning came after the London Fire Brigade reported that there had been 130 fires this year involving such batteries, 65 of them having been used for e-bikes, 24 for e-scooters and the remainder involving those in e-cigarettes.

Back in June, a faulty battery caused a blaze to break out on the twelfth floor of a tower block in Shepherd's Bush and 60 firefighters were required to bring the blaze under control. In July, five people were hospitalised after a house fire in Walthamstow. Firefighters said the cause was the failure of lithium-ion batteries for a converted e-bike.

During the following month, four people were taken to hospital after a fire in a flat in Bow. Two jumped from a first floor window after an e-bike being charged in a hallway burst into flames.

Also in August, trains into London Bridge Station had to be halted when a blaze in a railway arch being used to store a dozen battery-powered pedicabs went up in smoke.

Conversion kits

The Mayor of London said: “It’s important that Londoners understand which vehicles are safe and which might not be. As e-bikes and e-scooters have become more common, the London Fire Brigade has seen an increase in the number of incidents they’re attending involving lithium-ion batteries. Conversion kits, which allow people to convert a normal bike to an e-bike, are the cause of many of the fires.”

On that last point, Khan said such items had usually been bought from online marketplaces and may not meet the correct safety standards.

“Sadiq Khan is right to be concerned about fire risks posed by lithium-ion batteries,” concluded Antonia Grey. “However, it’s not just about those batteries found in conversion kits for bikes. All lithium-ion batteries pose a risk, never more so than when they are disposed of incorrectly. That’s why we also believe there needs to be a national communications campaign about the dangers of these batteries in terms of the fire risk.”

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Grenfell Tower Inquiry highlights need for focus on “technical and professional competence” 22/11/2022

THE BUILDING Engineering Services Association (BESA) believes the Grenfell Tower Inquiry, which closed only recently, served as a “timely reminder” of the overriding need to focus on “technical and professional competence”.

Lawyers summing up the 400 days of evidence heard by the Inquiry panel, itself chaired by Sir Martin Moore-Bick, observed that they had been shocked at the level of “buck-passing” that appeared to have occurred, with companies seemingly more interested in protecting their own legal position than focusing on the truth of the matter to prevent a similar tragedy happening again.

BESA has voiced the view that this would have come as no surprise to most individuals involved with the construction sector. Indeed, BESA CEO David Frise explained that shifting blame to others was a “tried and tested tactic” used to cover up incompetence and lack of technical rigour.

“Some of the unedifying behaviour we have seen during the Grenfell Tower Inquiry is deeply embarrassing for our industry, but it should inspire us all to do better,” said Frise. “The Grenfell tragedy has also led directly to the new Building Safety Act, which should, if properly enforced, leave no hiding place for people looking to cheat the system or who simply cannot be bothered to do their jobs properly.”

The Grenfell Tower Inquiry established that every one of the 72 deaths in the 2017 fire was avoidable. Lead counsel Richard Millett KC said there had been a collective “failure to take responsibility”. Millett presented “a spider’s web of blame” that illustrated precisely how different parties tried to shift blame on to others.

‘Nobody to blame’ 
Further, Millett stated that, if all the statements made to the Grenfell Tower Inquiry had been accurate, “then nobody was to blame for the Grenfell Tower fire. Can that really be right?”

According to Millett, the scale of the tragedy “ought to have provoked a strong sense of public responsibility… but many core participants appear simply to have used the Public Inquiry as an opportunity to position themselves for any legal proceedings… to minimise their own exposure to legal liability.” 

The blame-shifting seemed to be part of defensive tactics aimed at covering up “incompetence, lack of skill and experience, false and unverified assumptions and plain carelessness or lack of engagement,” suggested Millett.

He concluded: “There will have been many times in the evidence when I don’t doubt that you will have been struck by how many witnesses thought that something was somebody else’s job, but never bothered to check.”

Criminal proceedings

The Metropolitan Police Service is now waiting for the Grenfell Tower Inquiry panel to deliver its report before deciding whether to start criminal proceedings.

David Frise doesn’t believe that most of the people who worked on the Grenfell refurbishment “deliberately set out to do a bad job”, but they were part of a culture that encouraged people to “play fast and loose with specifications in a bid to keep costs down”.

Frise concluded: “Not being able to do a job has not stopped people winning work in this industry for far too long now. That situation will have to change.”

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Fire and Security Matters Awards 2023 open for entries 22/11/2022

ENTRIES ARE now open for the Fire and Security Matters Awards 2023 organised by Fire Safety Matters and Security Matters – both of which are published by Western Business Media – in conjunction with the Fire Industry Association (FIA).

The Fire and Security Matters Awards generated more than 220 entries last year, while 450-plus guests attended the awards ceremony. The 2023 scheme is free to enter and designed to recognise excellence and innovation in the fire and security business sectors. 

The winners of the Fire and Security Matters Awards will be revealed at a gala dinner and ceremony to be held at the CBS Arena in Coventry on Thursday 15 June 2023, which will be hosted by popular comedian and Mock The Week captain Hugh Dennis.
 
It only takes a few minutes to enter the Fire and Security Matters Awards. It’s the perfect way to gain much-deserved recognition for yourself, your team, your colleagues, a client, a product/service, a project/campaign or your organisation.

The list of categories for 2023 is as follows:

Fire Categories

  • Fire Innovation of the Year
  • Fire Safety Manufacturer of the Year (Sponsored by NCAB Group)
  • Fire Safety Installation Company of the Year (Sponsored by Apollo)
  • Fire Safety Project of the Year
  • Fire Safety Manager of the Year (Sponsored by Tio Fire Safety)
  • Fire Safety Team of the Year (Sponsored by EMS)
  • Fire Industry Woman of the Year (Sponsored by FFE Ltd)
  • Fire Safety Campaign of the Year

Security Categories

  • Security Manufacturer of the Year 
  • Security Guarding Company of the Year
  • Security Installation Company of the Year (Sponsored by simPRO Software)
  • Security/Risk Manager of the Year 
  • Security Company of the Year 
  • Security Team of the Year 
  • Security Project of the Year 
  • Security Industry Woman of the Year
  • Security Innovation of the Year

The deadline for entries to be received is Tuesday 31 March 2023.

*Enter the Fire and Security Matters Awards 2023 for FREE at https://firesecurityawards.com/award-categories

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