The smoke has long cleared but the shadow of the tragedy of the Grenfell tower fire will hang over this country for many years to come, and those of us in the fire safety industry feel a special kind of pain when we think of what happened there.
It has galvanised us to work with all our drive, determination and innovation to try to ensure the UK never suffers in this way again, and it’s why we’re setting aside commercial rivalries to work with other firms on getting out core messages regarding the importance of smoke control; developing strong relationships with the designers and installers of other types of life safety equipment.
The Grenfell inquiry is underway and has already issued an Interim Report (to which Adexsi UK is proud to have contributed) and its first Information Note, which outlines some of the immediate checks that building owners and responsible people (such as facilities managers) need to make to ensure that the structure(s) in their care are of adequate fire-safe construction and are being properly maintained. They include:
• Identifying and testing ACM cladding systems;
• Checking the broader fire safety of buildings;
• Progressing remedial works and maintenance;
• Durability and safety considerations if cladding has been removed;
• Professional advisors and where to find them;
• Building Regulations and Planning; and
• Procurement of building works.
Chapter two, part three specifically highlights our own area of expertise, under the category of ‘checking broader fire safety of buildings’: smoke ventilation system operation and performance.
This section reinforces the vital message we’ve been rising awareness of for a long time – in a building fire, smoke is the fastest-moving and potentially most dangerous hazard, often affecting victims long before the actual blaze or issues of structural integrity. An adequately specified, installed and maintained system has the potential to prevent a fire from turning into a tragedy.
Speak to the experts
The Information Note also features this message: “Building owners are responsible for determining whether their buildings are acceptably fire safe. They are likely to need to appoint professional advisors to assist them unless they have the relevant competence themselves or access to advice from those that do.”
This is the key statement from our perspective. Smoke control is unlike a good many other fire safety systems – it’s not well understood and many contractors simply aren’t up to the task of installing or maintaining a system. The responsible person needs to engage a specialist to ensure they’re meeting their legislative and moral obligations, and that means a company like Adexsi UK or one of the other reputable smoke control businesses available in our industry.
Once more, our hearts go out to all of those affected by the fire at Grenfell. You can read the Information Note in full here.
In addition the December 2017 document, Building a Safer Future – Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety: Interim Report, is available here.