Fire Sector Summit

direction, shares expertise and best practice, and publishes guidance from members’ distilled knowledge. Key principles are using ‘tried and tested’ door components, working within a known field of product technology and a defined scope of design, application and technology, then bringing it together with a focus on quality and regular audits.

Grenfell perspective

An FPA session on Grenfell featured Mr O’Neill, principal consultant Howard Passey and technical director Dr Jim Glockling, Mr O’Neill discussing FPA attempts to change government policy before the fire, which turned the ‘world upside down’. He also discussed risks of modern methods of construction (MMC), specifically use of combustible material in structures, cladding and insulation, and elaborated on FPA concerns for the inquiry and Dame Judith’s recommendations. Mr Passey then discussed competency,

the responsible person, the role of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 [FSO] in defining both, and the Joint Competent Authority (JCA). His view was that a ‘safety case will need to be produced’; ‘layers of protection’ through guidance would be required; and that implementation and management would be a ‘massive undertaking’. With the need to ‘come up with answers very quickly’, enforcement was key, as ‘if there’s a big stick, people follow the rules correctly, We’ve got to do it quickly, got to do it properly and don’t have a lot of time to do it’. Dr Glockling reflected on the FPA and ABI’s

testing programmes, noting that issues facing the sector ‘have been on the table for a very long time’. He scrutinised BS 8414 and flaws within the testing procedure, noting parameters are ‘too flexible’, before concluding on non combustibility.

Impact of city fires

Lewis Ramsay of Scottish Fire and Rescue Service spoke on the economic cost of fires in Glasgow, which have destroyed small businesses and desolated its main street; scenes reflected elsewhere in the UK. The scale and rapid spread of fires in the city’s buildings has escalated in recent times, bringing fatalities, access issues, loss of earnings/livelihoods, and huge restoration and demolition costs. He discussed the firefighter response, challenges and outcomes of significant fires in treasured city landmarks, two of which ravaged the iconic, Grade A listed Glasgow School of Art (GSA) designed by Charles Mackintosh (2014 and 2018). The others were the Cooperative Building (2011), Cameron House (2017) and Victoria’s nightclub (2018). ‘What strikes me are the similarities of the issues in these old buildings,’ he said. In the current focus


on MMC, he urged us not to take our eye off older buildings. Our city centres boast many fine Victorian buildings, but ‘once our heritage is gone, it’s gone’. Fires didn’t used to spread much beyond the room of origin, but Victorian buildings have been changed and ‘pushed beyond normal limits’, so we can’t assume they’re safe, he warned. For instance, In tenement buildings, fires start in shops or pubs in basements and spread to flats above. The GSA is being demolished, as the second fire

totally destroyed it while it was undergoing restoration, at an estimated £5m. Mr Ramsay termed this fire ‘an absolute disaster for Glasgow’. Added to extensive damage to its fabric and contents were the impacts on surrounding buildings in a thriving area: the listed O2, the ABC and campus buildings. Another side effect was pestilence, with rats ‘running around the streets’ because of flooding in nearby basements. Concluding however on a positive note, he

detailed a fire at the 32 acre Blochairn Fruitmarket (2017), which supplies businesses across the UK and Europe. A third of the site was affected and 30 of 96 business units had to be demolished, but there were no fatalities or injuries, and traders could return less than 24 hours after fire started, limiting the financial impact on them and secondary businesses.

City of London

Next, principal fire safety consultant Terence Short provided a short history of legislation and the City, before discussing innovations, which ‘don’t have to be complicated’, one example being the use of sheep to control DECEMBER 2018/JANUARY 2019 35

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