Industry News Fire Sector Federation Chairman

acknowledges frustration at progress to prevent future fires like Grenfell Tower

Introducing a lively debate on Building a Safer Future at the Firex International event held on 18th of June 2019 in the ExCel centre in London Michael Harper, who became the Federation’s Chairman last year, welcomed the progress made whilst expressing the frustration professionals and residents have concerning the lack of positive actions taken to stop another catastrophic fire. He told the audience of well over 100

that the Fire Sector Federation (FSF) along with many others inside and outside government had been trying to address the myriad of issues in a building system that so clearly failed while also trying to identify the products that can and cannot be used in circumstances like high rise or high risk buildings. Observing “this has not been an easy or indeed fast task, and in fact it has at times been frustrating and painfully slow”, he added the caveat that “it does of course have to be thorough and meticulous”. Part recalling Churchill’s ‘this may be the

end of the beginning’ Michael Harper also emphasised the clear wish to see the public inquiry move quickly into its investigative second phase and for the government’s

current building safety consultation to bring into fruition the “bedrock change” of a better building control system. One that “chased down the whole culture and competency of a construction industry that had somehow become complacent if not, in some cases, positively indifferent about fire safety”. Outlining that the Federation had joined

with many others to implement 100% of Dame Judith Hackitt’s final report to stop cherry picking or conversely avoid the “too difficult” issues and very recently had also backed the Inside Building campaign to have public finance allocated to assist private tenants remove the cladding from their buildings, Michael pointed out this was no sudden call to action. Indeed for a number of years FSF

members had, he said, argued for a review of building regulations; pressed the case for defining competency; suggested strongly that third party installers offer assured quality; promoted sprinklers and alarms to protect the vulnerable; and argued for better building protection. And this was not because of vested commercial interest but

because all FSF members share a common commitment to improve fire safety in the UK. Organisations like FSF often had a

difficult task in bringing the diverse views of their members together but he closed his comments by saying he was pleased that on many issues that common commitment had allowed FSF to agree “a common denominator” position in a number of fire safety concerns. Immediately after the introduction to

Building a Safer Future a panel of FSF lead officers addressed issues relating to fire strategy, competency, active and passive fire protection. The concern that two years after Grenfell little change had actually happened in regulation, products and practices was raised and debated. The underlying belief that few people really understood fire from a risk perspective, knew how to recognise companies and people who were competent and third party assured, and were unprepared to support a socially responsible industry simply because it cost more to have that quality, were all explored by the panel and their questioners.

Bridging the gap to hit climate change targets

Following Prime Minister Theresa May’s announcement that greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced to almost zero by 2050, the country needs to find alternative energy solutions that are secure and sustainable. The United Kingdom had previously

aimed to cut carbon emissions by 80% by 2050 under the Climate Change Act in 2008, but the Prime Minister’s intervention makes it more vital for industry to implement green solutions that are affordable and secure. Yet thanks to capex constraints, many businesses may not be in the position to make such sweeping changes to their energy operations, especially considering rising energy costs. However, a recent report from Aggreko

has identified the long-term hiring of decentralised energy solutions as a way to balance short-term financial concerns

with long-term sustainability. Decentralised energy technologies such as wind power, combined heat and power systems, or solar power enable on-site energy generation. This allows for more flexible demand and security of supply, as well reduced reliance on the national grid and carbon emissions. The report identifies that while capex

constraints are a key barrier to the adoption of a decentralised energy solution, these can be overcome by considering long-term hire as an option. Opting for such a solution will allow UK industry to access the benefits associated with decentralised energy and meet increasingly rigorous environmental standards, all while building the capital required to purchase such a system outright. “The UK is the first major nation in the

world to propose such ambitious targets, and its impact on industry could resonate widely,” said Chris Rason, Managing Director,

Northern Europe. “We need to ensure key energy decision-makers are prepared for this potential phase-out with new and innovative solutions, and decentralised energy will play a large part in this. “As a sustainable and efficient solution,

decentralised energy technology can ensure energy security for businesses while reducing their overall carbon footprint. These new targets mean it is even more vital that these benefits are accessible as possible, and long-term hire can provide a bridging gap solution for those who may otherwise be discouraged by high investment costs.” To download ‘Bridging The Energy Gap’

and find out more about the opportunities offered by decentralised energy, the barriers to its adoption and UK industry attitudes to decentralised energy solutions, visit:

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