The Department for Communities and Local Government issued CLG Circular 02/2012 on 19 December 2012.
The main objective of the Circular is to draw attention to the Building Regulations etc (Amendment) Regulations 2012 (S.I. 2012/3119) ("the Amendment Regulations") and the Building (Repeal of Provisions of Local Acts) Regulations 2012 (S.I 2012/3124) ("Local Acts Regulations"), both of which were made on 17 December 2012.
The provisions of the former set of regulations take effect on various dates but the latter took effect from 9 January 2013.
The Regulations make amendments to several pieces of legislation, principally the Building Act 1984, the Building Regulations 2010, the Building (Approved Inspectors etc) Regulations 2010 and the Building (Local Authority Charges) Regulations 2010 and associated guidance documents. However, of primary importance to the fire safety arena is the repeal of a number of local laws and enactments that required additional measures to be taken over ad above those required by the Building Regulations. The most prominent of these is the London Building Acts (Amendment) Act 1939 but also includes the following:
- County of Merseyside Act 1980;
- West Midlands County Council Act 1980;
- Cheshire County Council Act 1980;
- Isle of Wight Act 1980;
- South Yorkshire Act 1980;
- Greater Manchester Act 1981;
- County of Kent Act 1981;
- Derbyshire Act 1981;
- Humberside Act 1982;
- County of Avon Act 1982;
- Cumbria Act 1982;
- Hampshire Act 1983;
- Staffordshire Act 1983;
- County of Lancashire Act 1984;
- Surrey Act 1985;
- Bournemouth Borough Council Act 1985;
- Leicestershire Act 1985;
- Hereford City Council Act 1985;
- Worcester City Council Act 1985;
- Poole Borough Council Act 1986;
- Berkshire Act 1986;
- County of Cleveland Act 1987.
The effect of the regulations is to harmonise the provision of fire safety measures across England and, subject to the circular being adopted, in Wales.
At first glance, it may appear that requirements have been relaxed because prescriptive laws requiring additional measures in certain locations have been repealed; however, if anything, it suggests that the designers of buildings throughout the country will be required to ensure that they do not build down to a minimum prescribed set of criteria but, rather, they should more actively seek information as to the building's use and duration of intended occupancies to ensure that a reasonably safe, appropriate environment is provided. Due consideration should be also given to the safety of fire crews and for the management's agents who may be required to assist less-abled persons to evacuate the building when employing modern methods of construction or those incorporating "reduced redundancy" components.
The repeal of the local legislation lays down a challenge to designers, those commissioning the construction of buildings and to the eventual client companies. To design to a minimum safety provision leaves a minimal margin of safety for employees and visitors who cannot achieve "normal' walking speeds or who have mobility and/or sensory disabilities. Management measures are usually cited as compensating for such issues (e.g. Personal Evacuation Plans); however, many schemes are written but few are practised and even fewer have robust arrangements that are confirmed on a day-to-day basis. In these circumstances, it is arguable whether the employer would be able to claim that the arrangements were adequate in a Court of Law.
In effect, the security of a "design safety net" has been removed: risk design and management is now a reality for all workplaces and multi-occupancy housing in England and Wales. Everyone involved in the design and occupation of buildings should be aware of the change and, with one eye on the possible legal consequences, ask themselves, "What is required?" rather than "How little can I provide?".
It will probably have slipped your notice, unless you are an avid reader of government department circulars, but the various bits of the law on Building Regulations have been changed. The principal change is to remove the local Acts which were more stringent than Building Regulations. This should make life easier for building designers who will now have one set of regulations which apply throughout England and Wales.
There is a sting in the tail, the legal safety net has been removed and a more risk based system is now in place. The designers of a building must now ensure they are now providing a reasonably safe and appropriate environment for the people who will use the building, rather than build to a minimum set of prescribed standards.
Risk and design management is now a reality for all workplaces and multi-occupancy housing in England and Wales. The question everyone involved in the design and occupation of building must now ask themselves is, "What is required?" rather than "How little can I get away with?" and, yes, there are likely to be legal implications.
Global HSE Solutions in conjunction with Hilti have secured a major passive fire and protection project at Canary Wharf for 2013. This follows an intense selction process from the client with the project secured on the basis of proven track records in quality and innovation. Global are an Hitli approved contractor under the ASC sheme which enables us to call upon Hilti techincal expertise and product recognition in addition to Globals existing competencies under FIRAS and other industry standards. More to follow......
Sometimes you just get caught out even with the best of intentions.
There is a distressing story from the Wirral from early July. An elderly woman suffered burns when her clothes caught fire. This is distressing enough, but the story behind it makes it even sadder. She was in a hairdressing salon and it was her 83rd birthday. The owner of the salon presented his elderly customers with a birthday cake on their birthday; a nice appreciative gesture. On this occasion though, the flames from the candles set fire to the fumes from the hair lacquer on her clothes. Of course the mortified owner tried to put the flames out but burnt his hands in the process!
In the end it is often a problem of familiarity. How many birthday cakes had the salon owner successfully presented to his delighted customers, for example? How many cans of hair lacquer has he used in his salon? We don’t know and he probably can’t remember. Did he think that the contents of the hair lacquer can were flammable, did he check? Perhaps he thought it would never pose a threat.
But wait a minute; how many of you have cans of hair spray, fly spray, deodorants, furniture polish, etc. in your house? Do you know if the contents are flammable? Did you know that a lot of these use liquefied petroleum gas as a propellant?
You may well remember the James Bond film when Bond turned his can of deodorant into a flame thrower to dispatch the poisonous snake left by the villain? Yet, In how many old programmes have you seen someone smoking whilst they were fixing their hair or spraying on deodorant?
You never can tell; the dangers are there, so always be careful what you use when there could be flames about.
Global Group’s online training suite has heightened its success with the recent news from its client Marriott Hotels that over 90% of their staff have achieved passes in their bespoke created basic Fire Safety Course.
The course, operated purely online, has been designed to offer total flexibility in usage, and can be completed anywhere at any time in less than thirty minutes, with the bonus of an internal tracker for staff monitoring and feedback. For companies such as Marriott Hotels, whom employ a transient workplace in wide spread geographical locations and on complex shift hours, this is the ideal way to ensure all staff receive training fast, effectively and with minimal disruption to working schedules. At the end of the course staff have an understanding of hotel fire safety, crucial to the safety of everyone around them and the premises where they work.
Global Group have now successfully delivered over 25,000 online courses for the introduction of fire safety principles, during the last three years, and given the impressive pass rates to date, this sets to continue. For companies with demanding schedules, an extensive workforce and looking for solid training with flexibility and cost effectiveness, the online Fire Safety Course ticks every box.
There has also been an increased demand in the need for security training suites and Global Group now offer a range of online security courses, designed to keep companies, their assets, staff and clients safe. These include Bomb Detection and Armed Attacker training – both equip staff with knowledge and confidence in dealing with a variety of emergency situations.
Global Group are delighted with the delivery success of the Marriott Hotels fire safety training and are available to create and tailor courses of similar content specifically to individual business needs.
We are pleased to announce the appointment of Marvin Williams as Passive Fire Installation Supervisor for a number of our ongoing nationwide projects. Marvin joins the team with an extensive background in on-site supervisory roles, working both in a hands-on and managerial capacity, and offering a long history and expertise in a broad variety of passive fire installation and maintenance solutions.
Marvin will be working closely with our contracts team to ensure high production levels are maintained and monitoring good health and safety practice during installation and
site visits. He is a Hilti Approved Installer and Trainer, and having worked with diverse industry equipment and systems, such as Rainscreen and Kingspan insulation, Glass rock, intumescent mastics and paints, fire curtains, restraining dampers, diamond drilling, smoke sealing, acoustic sealing, Promatec Board, Vicuclad and compounding, etc., we are certain that Marvin will bring a great deal to the role, and to applying the best solutions for our clients.
In addition to his experience, Marvin’s qualifications include: SSSTS health and Safety Supervisor, NVQ 2 Passive Fire Protection, IPAF Cherry Picker and Scissor Lift Licences, PASMA tower erecting, scaffolding adjusting and dismantling, and Asbestos Awareness training, amongst others.
Welcome onboard, Marvin!
Two images have caught my attention over the past week. One came from the opening ceremony when we were led to believe that HM the Queen accompanied by James Bond parachuted from a helicopter to open the Olympic Games. The other was Boris Johnson Mayor of London stuck on a zip wire in a suit, blue helmet and harness clutching two Union Jacks. The first was a stunt carried out by professionals, (the insurers would never allow Daniel Craig to parachute out of a helicopter, I’m sure) and the second obviously wasn’t.
Then I saw on one of my lists a question relating to adjusting the gaps between the seals on fire doors. My curiosity was raised as the question came from an electrician! Further messages revealed that the electrician was being subcontracted to do the work by a fire extinguisher company! Now adjusting doors is a job which can be carried out by any competent carpenter, but when it comes to fitting new smoke and intumescent seals this is more specialist work which really needs a person who is qualified and can certify the work.
Fire doors have a specific purpose which is to slow the spread of fire and smoke through a building and give the people inside it, precious time to escape. Similarly any equipment provided to protect people and buildings from the effects of a fire needs to be installed by trained professionals who can prove they are competent to do the job.
Remember if things go wrong it will be you who is in court not the workman and you will be asked the question why did you choose a person who has not expertise to carry out the work; the answer “it was cheaper” will not impress the Judge! So, whilst we would all secretly like to see HM the Queen, and Boris for that matter, replaying those scenes, some things really are best left to the right people.
Kent Fire and Rescue Service has just brought out a booklet outlining its policy on Automatic Fire Alarm Systems. This policy is being introduced in two steps. The first step, in April this year, made it clear they would not attend any calls generated by an Automatic Fire Alarm System between 6am and 6pm unless it was confirmed that there was a fire. The second step, to be brought in during April 2013, will see them not attending any calls generated by an Automatic Fire Alarm System (except from sheltered accommodation).
For those of you in Kent who are thinking that your business is safe because you have an Automatic Fire Alarm System linked to an Alarm Receiving Centre, the bad news is that if a fire breaks out, the Fire Brigade won’t be putting in an appearance, unless you can confirm it’s a fire of course!
This policy has already led to one incident in this country where a building did have a fire. The Automatic Fire Alarm System alerted all the staff in the building and the Alarm Receiving Centre, who in turn alerted the Fire Brigade. But the Fire Brigade challenged the call, ‘phoned the building, and as no one replied, assumed there was no incident. Why didn’t they get a reply? Well, all the people who would normally answer the phone were in fact standing in the car park having evacuated the building wondering when the Fire Brigade was going to turn up!
Admittedly, there is a problem with unwanted alarms being generated by Automatic Fire Alarm Systems and the Chief Fire Officers Association has produced an excellent document on this. Each alarm system was allowed a number of unwanted alarms per year depending on the size of the system. For example, a system with 100 detector heads may be allowed one unwanted call a year whilst a system with 1,000 heads would be allowed 10. If your system was generating too many unwanted calls then you would get a warning along the lines of ‘sort your system out or the Brigade will take action!’
But to go from that to non-attendance, I ask you?!
For those of you not based in Kent don’t be followed that this won’t affect your business, too. It will. If there is no great outcry then other Brigades will soon adopt the same policy.
In a nutshell; the number of calls will decrease and this will allow further reductions in the number of fire-fighters, fire engines and fire stations, allowing the government to save even more money. And we all know the government won’t be of help if your business burns down and your insurance premiums go through the roof, not to mention the loss of trade and negative corporate image.
This is one fire that really does need putting out.
Unconventional cooking methods led to a spaghetti dish needing 20 fire-fighters and four fire engines…
Having spotted a delightful news snippet in the Independent, I couldn’t help but laugh at the sheer resourcefulness of the human race.
Two men in North London decided to have a tin of spaghetti, I assume as a snack or a meal. Now in my dull and boring way I would have considered placing the contents in a saucepan and heating on a cooker or maybe heating it in a microwave. I’m assuming most of you would do the same. But in a stroke of sheer genius, albeit with disastrous results, these two decided to use a toaster. Yes, a toaster, and I’d liken this to an art form on the same level as the culinary skill of barbequing soup!
The plan was to place the tin on top of the toaster. All good and well, but let’s not forget as these two obviously did that there is an unfortunate tendency for the toaster to pop up and switch itself off - a useful application that prevents the bread becoming incinerated, however a drawback when trying to heat a tin of spaghetti… They overcame the hurdle by wedging the toaster so that it would not pop up and switch itself off. The result was the toaster caught fire and required the services of four fire engines and approximately 20 fire-fighters!
Something tells me that this was not their tastiest dish, and not quite a qualifier for the prestigious Darwin Award (The Darwin Awards commemorate individuals who protect our gene pool by making the ultimate sacrifice of their own lives. Darwin Award winners eliminate themselves in an extraordinarily idiotic manner, thereby improving our species' chances of long-term survival), but a valiant attempt nonetheless. Just remember folks, fire can and will start with little provocation – a reminder to us all.
PS. I hope there was enough to go round…