Waiting game

Following on from its Hackitt Review seminar earlier in 2018, the FPA hosted an update event last December, reports William Roszczyk

game’, ahead of the government’s announcement later that month. Event chair Douglas Barnett of AXA noted that we ‘won’t forget’ Grenfell, and it was ‘time that things changed’, with ‘much talk behind the scenes and action starting to happen’. With the combustible materials ban, the restriction to 18m and above was ‘a start, only a start’, and there was ‘much more to be done’. With 12 working groups set to release reports


‘very soon’, Mr Barnett stated that ‘professions are starting to put their hands up and admit that they got it wrong’. From building design to maintenance, competence should be at the ‘very heart’, while it ‘makes sense’ to be third party accredited. The fi re and construction industries ‘too often forget who the end customer is – they deal with the consequences and are ultimately responsible’.

Fire toxicity

Dr Jim Glockling, FPA technical director, discussed work undertaken by the FPA and the University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN) into fi re toxicity. Prior research undertaken with the Association of British Insurers studied the ‘adequacy’ of fi re safety standards and regulation to ‘keep people safe’,

40 FEBRUARY 2019

PA MANAGING director Jonathan O’Neill said that implementing Dame Judith’s recommendations had become a ‘waiting

and the ‘incompatibilities’ between materials used in construction and their separation from people. Materials ‘don’t need to burn to affect people’, as they can ‘alter conditions’, particularly in the case of material participation, he pointed out. Aims of the toxicity study were to see which

material combinations ‘were better than others’, whether the materials approval process should consider toxicity, and if building regulations needed to be changed. UCLAN’s Dr Richard Hull then noted that the ‘open question’ of toxic exposure via the approval process was studied, as Dame Judith’s report set out that the value engineering approach was ‘no longer acceptable’, while toxicity was ‘the Cinderella of fi re science’, as it was ‘poorly funded’, not understood and considered ‘too diffi cult’. Climate change has driven modern methods of construction, but companies ‘can’t replace non combustible materials with combustible ones and pretend everything’s alright’. The number of fi re deaths fell until 2013, due to

the growth in use of smoke detectors. Interestingly, the growth in deaths from smoke or carbon monoxide (CO) toxicity only fell in the last 15 to 18 years. Toxicity depends entirely upon materials and fi re conditions, and there is currently no requirement to assess the smoke toxicity of products or material contents. The 2015 Colectiv club fi re in Bucharest saw 64 die

after internal fi reworks ignited acoustic foam – most were poisoned by hydrogen cyanide (HCN).

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