Fire Compartmentation Failings Can Be Costly…Very

Mansfield District Council are paying a huge price for contravening the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 in three apartment blocks. As a result of failing to carry out the necessary remedial work identified within the timeframe specified in a fire risk assessment, they are facing costs of up to £20 million.

Despite being built as recently as 2017, retrospective remediation is needed to ensure these buildings are fully compliant with BS9999 or current standards within Approved Document B (ADB).

These works will include increased fire resistance in protected escape routes in corridors, lobbies and stairs, address deficiencies in the fire resistance of protected routes and flat entrance doors, and supply key fobs for fire exits in the basement car park. London Fire Brigade have also recommended the consideration of combustible façade cladding materials in the risk assessment.

Mansfield District Council says it took immediate action to address several fire safety concerns and keep tenants and residents safe in their homes following a fire risk assessment in 2018 and the council has worked with London Fire Brigade and the residents to implement temporary fire protection measures. The council has undertaken an extensive investigation into the fire safety issues at the property and is satisfied that it has taken all necessary steps to ensure the immediate safety of its tenants.

But following an inspection in 2018, repeated delays in completing all required work are compromising required compliance and it doesn’t look like this will be resolved in the near future. A proposed three-phase plan due to commence in 2023 is currently out for tender and subject to funding approval within the council’s approved capital programme. Whilst some residents will be able to stay in their homes during the planned works, others will be temporarily relocated, adding additional inconvenience and cost to an already hefty balance.

This experience has been unpleasant for all involved, so what lessons can be learned from this? What could have been done to prevent this?

1) Identify a responsible person
2) Make sure you have a fire strategy
3) Conduct a Fire Risk Assessment
4) Ensure your building is compliant with current building and fire safety regulations.
5) Enforce fire safety legislation

Identify a responsible person

The Fire Safety Act 2021 clarifies the role of the responsible person. All commercial premises must have a designated ‘responsible person’ for fire safety. This could be an owner or occupier, employer or manager. The ‘responsible person’ is accountable for the safety of employees and/or inhabitants of a building and must ensure that the guidelines and recommendations in the Fire Strategy document are adhered to. The responsible person will need to liaise with specialist companies/contractors to ensure the building/premises they are responsible for are fire-safe.

Make sure you have a fire strategy

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 states that it is a requirement for every business to have a fire strategy. Specifically tailored to a building, the strategy provides relevant information and guidance to develop and implement effective fire prevention and protection.

Typically, this will be produced at the design stage of a building in conjunction with architectural plans, but if this is absent or outdated then a retrospective strategy can be developed. The strategy should be created by an accredited fire risk assessor or fire engineer with comprehensive training and experience.

Conduct a Fire Risk Assessment

Either the ‘responsible person’ or an appointed specialist is required to undertake a fire risk assessment. The Fire Risk Assessment with identify fire hazards and people at risk, to evaluate, remove or reduce the risks, and record this data in an emergency plan. This should be reviewed and updated regularly.

Liaise with specialists…

If you are concerned about the fire safety of your building, Meritas can conduct a fire compartmentation survey to identify any areas for development.

Enforce Fire Safety Legislation

In addition to ensuring fire safety awareness, the responsible person is liable for the regular maintenance and inspection of fire extinguishers and other protective equipment including testing of fire alarm systems.

  • This work must be carried out by engineers and/or trained technicians.
  • They must also ensure clear, well-signed, exit routes.
  • Regular reviews should be conducted and must be revisited if changes or refurbishment occurs.

Find out how we can support you and your business in all of these areas

Contact us today.

Relevant links:

Fire Safety (England) Regulation 22 – Gov.UK factsheet

Fire safety: Approved Document B – Gov.UK

Standard for fire safety in commercial buildings


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