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FOCUS


Fire Sector Summit


stop a 42 ton lorry. This does mean there is a need for a ‘balance between protection and business continuity’ however, with no lorry parking bays bringing extra congestion and access difficulties.


Joint Competent Authority


Paul Timmins and Paul Everall then outlined Building Regulations Advisory Committee (BRAC) views on what the JCA might look like. Mr Timmins explained first that the Hackitt Review had recommended that the government set up a JCA of ‘working bodies’ from local authority building standards, fire and rescue authorities and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), with a ‘wide purview of the construction process, technical knowledge and demonstrable independence’. Its remit? To oversee the performance of the built


environment sector; ensure the regulatory system delivers safe buildings while encouraging innovation and productivity; give expert advice on engineering the built environment, including to government; and ‘validate and assure the guidance produced by industry to meet the outcomes-based goals of the Building Regulations’. More work is needed on JCA models before


fern levels and reduce fire risk in South London parks. Manufacturers that the City works with include


Fireco, Hilti, Apollo and Musterd, for watermist extinguishers; ranged suppression systems; stove guards for halls of residence and social housing units; sweep and clear evacuation management systems; and firestopping for cabling. Other innovations included fire doors; digital messaging services for emergency alerts; and linear fire detection in cable and pipe tunnels. Tower Bridge, which has limited staircases


across three buildings, two walkways and two towers, uses electronic, multidirectional wayfinder signs that activate depending on where a fire is and where the best exit would be. Mansion House’s heritage doors were a ‘massive problem’, with English Heritage unhappy about any changes to the building’s polished floors – the solution there was a simple door guard system. Fire safety also links with terrorism response, Mr


Short noting that, while a ‘recent way of life’, London had experienced bombs for hundreds of years. At the ‘forefront of national security’, the City has very high profile buildings and works to ensure fire alarms don’t disrupt key events, and all staff are thoroughly briefed. It is focused on explosives and fires, recent intelligence suggesting al–Qaeda researched ‘how to isolate fire alarm systems’. Options can be ‘outside regulations’, requiring the City to ‘think outside the box’, as some attackers aim to create fires outside, using ventilation systems to target those inside. Hidden external precautions include ‘subtle vehicle mitigation’ via hidden bollards that can


governance arrangements, infrastructure and accountabilities are drawn up, and it’s not yet clear whether it will be at local or national level. Other questions include: will or should responsibilities, funding and membership overlap with BRAC; should BRAC be evolved into a building standards agency with a new increased budget for research and development; and will the public have confidence in the professional and financial independence, competence and accountability of JCA members? He suggested a model of local enforcement agencies that are independent, externally accountable, resource tested, measurably competent and potentially licensed by a building standards agency setting national performance standards. A ministerial announcement on the Hackitt recommendations is due by December 2018, with a more detailed announcement likely in spring. Next up, Paul Everall confirmed that Local


Authority Building Control (LABC) supports Hackitt’s call for integrated systemic change and her words: ‘The ability for duty holders to choose their regulator must stop and regulators must be able to enforce as regulators.’ Her solution is rigorous duty holder roles and responsibilities that align with the Construction (Design & Management) Regulations [CDM 2015]; robust ‘gateways’ to strengthen regulatory oversight at the planning, completion and occupation stages of buildings; stronger change control/record keeping; and a single, more streamlined regulation via the JCA, with more rigorous enforcement and penalties. He also advocated much stronger regulation on passing information from inception to demolition ‘in a continuous process’, and wondered whether


36 DECEMBER 2018/JANUARY 2019 www.frmjournal.com


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