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EMERGENCY EVACUATIONS


helps to protect their building. Given that FMs are unlikely to be experts in building and fire safety standards, the recommendation is always to verify that their suppliers have a third-party certification that is appropriate and valid for the work required.


Sadly, it is all too easy for those without experience of fire safety and protection to put their faith in individuals without the right qualifications or competencies – leading to inadequate equipment being installed or a lack of suitable testing and maintenance. BAFE, the independent registration body for third-party certified fire protection companies across the UK, is a useful starting point for anyone wanting to meet their legal duty of safety. By going through the independent register of quality fire safety service providers, facilities managers can find independently audited and competent professionals able to help them meet their fire safety obligations.


Q: IS EMERGENCY LIGHTING LEGISLATION IN


THE UK FIT FOR PURPOSE? CW: Emergency lighting legislation in the UK is fit for purpose – if followed. Sadly, all too often it is just not implemented correctly. The principal of fire risk assessments is much more suitable than blanket rules which may be inappropriate for particular applications. When done correctly by qualified individuals, fire risk assessments provide a measured response to risk levels. However, they only work when implemented correctly.


This means not only ensuring the assessment is carried out by individuals with the right training, but also proceeding with the correct level of follow-up in


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terms of inspections, maintenance and, when required, repairs. Incidents occur when the initial assessment falls short, or follow-up is inadequate.


Q: WHAT WILL IT TAKE TO SEE A SHIFT TO PRIORITISING SAFETY WHICH MEETS – OR EVEN EXCEEDS – STANDARDS? CW: Unfortunately, many individuals take a short-term view when considering fire safety. Investing in quality equipment solves the problem in the long-term, yet many are swayed by the false economy of opting for the lowest cost deal to tick a box at a moment in time. If they choose substandard systems and don’t engage certified professionals to do the installation, they usually end up paying more in the long-run to replace or repair faulty technology.


Furthermore, if an incident occurs and the individual responsible for the building has clearly not done their due diligence, that false economy becomes even more pronounced as they are hit with major fines, or even a prison sentence.


Ultimately, fire safety should never be viewed as a short-term problem to be solved for the minimum cost. Until that short-term mindset evolves into a longer-term view which prioritises safety and considers total cost of ownership rather just the initial price tag, we will continue to see substandard equipment installed, a lack of appropriate maintenance and, sadly, peoples’ lives needlessly put at risk.


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