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FOCUS


Fire Sector Summit


opinion against’ the built environment. The IFSS Coalition comprises 40 international bodies who will adopt mandatory standards and not rely on governments, but ‘get on with it right now’. Advantages include consistency, transparency, no cost, comparable and futureproofed standards, and not following the ISO model. All members can ‘contribute to and develop’


standards to ‘set high levels of fire safety’, though this could present ‘tribal’ issues. However, Mr Strong hoped members would ‘compromise and get consistency’, with the IFSS needing a ‘team approach in the public interest’. It offered a ‘huge opportunity to build a global profession’, and the United Nations had already voted to adopt the standards, alongside World Bank backing.


Product certification


combustibility, hopefully providing a ‘way for the government to understand’. RICS believes the combustible materials ban


‘doesn’t go far enough’, and that we need to ‘get to a situation where people really understand fire risk’. There is now strong public interest in consistent testing, and buildings from the last 25 years present challenges for fire and rescue services (FRSs) due to modern materials, as fires grow ‘very rapidly’. Working alongside the MHCLG and the Hackitt


Review, RICS aims to change this, but there is ‘some way to go’. Both the construction and fire safety sectors can ‘make fire safe buildings together’ to ‘restore public confidence’, and Mr Strong believed that ‘making do is not improving’. The IFSS was needed because there is ‘complete inconsistency internationally’, and due to uncertainty, design, construction and fire safety standards should dovetail with a competency framework for HRRBs. As competency poses ‘really big issues we all


need to get to grips with’, he acknowledged fire safety has not been ‘central’ to surveyors, but RICS is ‘making steps’ to improve this. A concern was that block managers were not competent, while fire risk assessments and different competency schemes created confusion. ‘Incremental improvements’ were needed for existing buildings, while newer buildings were often hampered by poor fire safety knowledge, and it was up to the built environment to ‘collectively raise the agenda’. Mr Strong hoped that an increased amount


of cooperation ‘now works’, as Grenfell had been a ‘massive shock’ that ‘continues to grab public attention’, pitting the ‘court of public


‘Fire safety in buildings is unattainable without products that perform,’ began Mike Wood of the Passive Fire Protection Forum, while adding that budgets often hold sway. Manufacturers have responsibility for product performance – it’s not only about third party certification. Every day, manufacturers discuss specifications down the line that are inappropriate or about which there are reservations – they need to better communicate their knowledge of products and materials. Fire doors are very specialised, multi component,


complex systems. With 144 permutations affecting how a fire door is put together (materials, hinges, locks and seals, layouts, glass, glazing apertures etc), a great deal of testing is needed and this must be as realistic as possible. However, as every condition cannot be reproduced, it relies on standardised conditions. Stating that he did not recognise Dame Judith’s description of the current procedure for testing and certifying construction products – ‘disjointed, confusing, unhelpful, and lacks any sort of transparency’ – he maintained that ‘there’s a deep technical base to everything we do’. Warning of a danger of generalisation – ‘if some composite doors fail, this does not mean all composite doors will fail’ – Mr Wood said he had known doors designed to give 30 minutes’ fire resistance that actually provide 40, so ‘doors must be tested to the limits they go to, not as expected’. He distinguished desktop studies from technically based assessments, in which sound judgements are based on knowledge of test behaviour, products and technology, and the different layers of testing (door manufacturers and glass manufacturers also do their own testing, for instance). Much test data has been produced over years on fire door sets, resulting in continuous development and improvement, using tried and tested components. The Architectural and Specialist Door Manufacturers’ Association (ASDMA) provides


34 DECEMBER 2018/JANUARY 2019 www.frmjournal.com


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