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FOCUS


Hot on safety


Complicated, potentially deadly mixtures of responsibilities can make site fire safety complex. Alan Field covers some key points


is one area of health and safety where prison sentences do get meted out, and where the reputational risks to a business can be serious. There is also more than just the small matter of protecting human life. As with many areas of facilities management


T


(FM), fi re safety is often a matter of effective contract review and communication across all parties, to ensure that prevention is really better than cure.


Clear contracts


The contract (or an internal service level agreement), should always state clearly what the FM professional is responsible for in relation to fire safety. There should be no ambiguity. However, this is not always fully the case. In my experience, there can be particular confusion in cases where the landlord – or more usually, their managing agent – holds the responsible person duty under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (applicable to England and Wales), but the contract may make the facilities manager responsible


28 FEBRUARY 2019 www.frmjournal.com


O START with, an overview: fi re safety is not something to leave to be sorted out at a later date once a contract settles down. It


for ensuring fi re detection systems maintenance is carried out and for managing life safety evacuations. So, in reality, there is an element of shared responsibility. There should always be a clear, written


agreement between all the parties as to what the necessary channels of communication are, in order to ensure that any issues can be properly reported and resolved. While many managing agents and FM professionals will have a good relationship, this should not be left to chance, especially as reporting lines and individual decision makers may change over the contract period. With a multi tenanted site, there can be other complications. Although tenants are often responsible for their own fi re safety provision, the building could for example share one fire detection system controlled by the facilities manager. There will more often be one system for evacuation within a building, and on these points the tenancy or licence agreements are not always clear, and often the manager will not have access to them. This means the FM contract needs to be clear on what happens if issues cannot be resolved informally between the FM professional and representatives of a tenant.


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