Housing sector

What future for fire safety in the social housing sector? -SHP

fire safety

hail jamie

A leading group of experts took the stage for a busy session at FIREX International in May to examine the challenges of improving fire safety in the social housing sector. Jamie Hailstone provides an overview of the discussion.

FIREX-Social Housing Seminar-22Introducing the session, Andy Frankum, chairman of the National Social Housing Fire Strategy Group, said there were “lots of changes” in the sector with new regulations coming from central government, but he said the ultimate goal remained to ensure residents are safe.

The first speaker was Tina Mistry, relationship manager at Aico, who said the company had recently commissioned research from the Center for Economic and Business Research, to look at fire safety requirements and standards across the UK. United.

“The reason we did this is that we sat down and looked at the four nations, and found that there wasn’t a single document that looked at all of the standards or regulations associated with landlords. and social tenants, or resident engagement strategies, she told delegates. .

Another aspect of the research was to examine the economic impact on the financial impact of the fires, which included data from a YouGov survey. “It was about the human impact of fire, because that’s something that’s always forgotten.”

Mistry said that when people normally think of the direct consequences of a fire, it’s in terms of death or injury, or property damage, but she added that there are other indirect costs, such as people taking leave or moving. She said research had calculated the indirect and direct cost of a fire to be £31,600.

She added that a lot of time and effort goes into managing situations once a fire has started, but a more proactive approach to education and engagement work could pay off. significant long-term benefits. “Standards and regulations are great, but in fact, so is approaching a problem from the human perspective,” she concluded.

The next speaker was Elspeth Grant, CEO and Personal Emergency Escape Plans (PEEP) expert at Triple A Solutions, who spoke about the lack of progress around PEEPS for people with disabilities.

“Why are we talking about it? In the end, the fire safety ordinance is pretty clear. The legal requirements of Sections 14 and 15 are that all relevant persons in a room may move away from the immediate danger and evacuate the building as safely and as quickly as possible. It’s a legal requirement,” Grant said.

She cited research from the University of Leeds and Phil Murphy, using data provided by the Home Office from the Fire and Rescue Services Incident Reporting System, which shows it takes an average of 25 minutes from a call to 999 for firefighters to be able to undertake a high-level first response. She explained that the same research showed that after spending 20 minutes near a fire and toxic gases, you are more likely to have a fatality than a rescue.

“If you look at Grenfell, we know that deaths increased because family members weren’t abandoning disabled loved ones, and in fact neighbors tried to protect their neighbours,” Grant added.

Neil Yeomans, head of asset security at Orbit Group, also joined in the discussion, saying the industry has focused too long on “tick-box exercises”, which has led to a mentality of silo.

“One of the things I would recommend to anyone in a housing association is to stay away from tick box exercises and instead move towards a culture of safety, on which the regulator of government security was very clear,” Yeomans said.

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