I don’t particularly need to refer back to the tragic events of earlier this year as the start point for talking about fire door safety, and fire safety in general.
As the owner of a flat in a small block of flats and a new member of the block maintenance committee I have been spending a lot of time recently reviewing Fire Safety in our block. As I am considered a ‘responsible person’ with regards to Fire Safety in the block, I wanted to ensure that we were meeting all our obligations and complying with all the relevant regulations.
The regulations state that there is duty on the “responsible person to …take such general fire precautions as may reasonably be required in the circumstances of the case to ensure that the premises are safe”.
The fire safety risk assessment duty of the “responsible person” is to evaluate the risk to people from fire, taking into account existing fire safety measures and to determine whether additional measures are necessary.
From speaking to the other flat owners in the block it was clear that they were unclear about their obligations, what they were legally responsible for and where to go to get expert advice. When they had appointed contractors in the past to carry out Fire Safety work they had been poorly advised, works had been carried out that didn’t meet Fire Safety guidance and probably made the building less safe as a result.
So, for me as the owner of a flat, and as someone who works for a company that installs fire safety measures, the timing of this years’ Fire Door Safety week could not be better; it should reinforce the message once again that when it comes to this important issue there should be no compromise.
Existing regulations which offer ‘guidance’ need to be swept away and replaced with mandatory obligations and we can only hope that when the enquiry into Grenfell Tower is completed that this, amongst other things, is the outcome.
As a business which installs Fire Doors we are already seeing some of those charged with installing new fire safety measures looking to cut corners financially, and buying services from companies that are simply not qualified in the true sense of the word, to carry them out.
Regulation and Certification must be made mandatory for anybody supplying or installing fire safety measures – there is simply no excuse for this field not to be treated the same as gas safety; it is an argument we have often made, but with little response.
It is interesting that we have just achieved CORGI Fenestration registration within our business as this most recognised of brands has moved into additional sectors, bringing with it the core values of Trust, Reliability, Quality and Expertise on which it was founded.
Many of us will remember CORGI itself was born out of an earlier disaster at Ronan Point in 1968, and that brought a major change in regulation. Let’s hope we see another step change now.
Fire Door Safety Week will raise the issues of fire safety again, and any campaigns which keep this issue at the forefront of people’s minds should be supported and applauded for their efforts.
Certainly, we at Mila Window and Door Maintenance will be supporting it and hope it is a great success.
For anybody who owns a property in a block of Flats or is part of a block management committee I suggest that you understand fully your obligations and the legal requirements of ‘responsible persons’ under Fires Safety Regulations. Start with your local Fire Brigade, mine had a useful page –
manchesterfire.gov.uk/fire_safety_advice/fire-safety-law/fire-risk-assessment. Only use certified companies – exovabmtrada.com/en-gb/certification/certified-supplier-search or firedoorinstaller.co.uk/installer-search when installing Fire Doors to ensure that what you install meets the requirements.
Rick Awdas is Business Development Manager for Mila Window and Door Maintenance in the North firstname.lastname@example.org