Earlier this year in Housing Association Magazine, Stephen Adams (BAFE Chief Executive), said “Housing Associations, Groups and Trusts must ensure they are adhering to the relevant parts that apply to them in the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (and equivalent legislation in Scotland and Northern Ireland). It is imperative in this instance that quality providers are used to ensure a safe building where untrained and potentially vulnerable people reside."
In February this year, Southwark Council were fined £570,000 for fire safety failings. In July 2009, six people died in the fire that occurred at the Lakenal House tower block.
“All landlords, including large housing providers, such as councils and housing associations, have a clear responsibility under the law that their premises meet all fire safety requirements and are effectively maintained to provide protection in the event of a fire and keep their residents safe.” - Dan Daly (London Fire Brigade assistant commissioner for fire safety)
The tragic fire at Grenfell Tower in June this year showed us the devastating effects fire in multiple occupancy premises and the genuine concerns over fire safety standards.
Following the fire, London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton wrote to all housing providers in London stating:
“Your fire risk assessment should be carried out by a competent fire risk assessor and might identify additional measures that should be put in place, which you should then act upon.” - http://www.london-fire.gov.uk/Documents/Commissioner_to_housing_providers_26_June_2017.pdf
If you are not confident in your ability to fulfil your fire safety obligations you should be employing providers to help you meet these to the highest standards.
There are many organisations up and down the country that offer fire safety services, so who can you trust to be a competent provider who will deliver the right works for your building? One very strong option is to use an organisation that has gained third party certification to fulfil your requirements. Third party certification is a completely independent method of an organisation gaining evidence of their competency to provide a specific service, such as fire risk assessments
Where can I find a third party certificated company to help fulfil my fire safety obligations?
BAFE is the independent register of certificated competent fire safety organisations. All BAFE registered organisations are third party certificated in one or more specific fire safety services. A free search service is available to use on the BAFE website (www.bafe.org.uk) to find competent organisations near you
It is important to use competent providers, certificated in the specific service that you require. You wouldn’t use a dentist to perform heart surgery, so why would you use a company only certificated to provide fire doors to fulfil your fire risk assessment? Make sure you used the BAFE website to search for companies certificated in specific areas to ensure you are using a competent provider for your required works.
Why is third party certification important?
Without third party certification, there is little in the industry that can offer independent, unbiased approval that a company can competently deliver what they claim. This is of vital importance with fire safety, as this is always discussing life safety
Government fire safety guidance documents state: “Third-party certification schemes for fire protection products and related services are an effective means of providing the fullest possible assurances, offering a level of quality, reliability and safety that non-certificated products may lack”
Don’t neglect to maintain your fire systems and provisions
It is a good feeling when you have created a quality fire risk assessment, provided correct fire extinguishers and installed a new fire system such as a detection/alarm or emergency lighting knowing your building is safe. However, ongoing maintenance of these is just as important to ensure they continue to provide a safe environment to be in. This is part of your fire safety legal obligations and should also be performed by a competent provider.
For further information please visit the BAFE website www.bafe.org.uk
BAFE – Promoting Quality in Fire Safety