Quelfire discusses changes in fire safety since Grenfell Tower fire

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“Many positive changes are taking place” since Grenfell Tower fire, says Quelfire

June 14th marks the seventh anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire.

Quelfire has published an article focussing on themes such as the importance of responsibility and cultural change within the construction industry, encouraging all parties to stay ahead of government initiatives.

While there are still challenges within the built environment, many positive changes are taking place.

The Grenfell Tower fire revealed the urgent need for change within the UK’s government and construction industry.

In May 2018, Dame Judith Hackitt’s Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety found that the high-rise and complex building regulatory system was “not fit for purpose.” This led to 53 recommendations aimed at changing industry practices, culminating in the Building Safety Act 2022.

Training and education improvements

Quelfire’s publication highlights the Grenfell Tower Inquiry, which revealed significant gaps in knowledge, regulations, and practice, prompting an increase in fire safety training across the industry.

Companies are now investing in internal training programmes to ensure that all employees, from on-site workers to senior management, understand fire safety measures and products.

Professional bodies such as the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and the Institution of Fire Engineers (IFE) have expanded their training programmes.

The IFE and the Association for Specialist Fire Protection (ASFP) released Level 2 and Level 3 qualifications covering essential knowledge for those working in the passive fire protection sector.

This is supported by initiatives like the Building a Safer Future (BSF) Charter, which promotes behavioural and cultural change across the industry.

Additionally, the use of technology in fire safety training has increased.

Virtual reality (VR) tools now provide individuals with an in-depth understanding of firestopping and its function in a fire scenario.

Adoption of industry best practices

With improved education, the adoption of industry best practices and concepts has increased.

Quelfire’s article points out that one example is the implementation of early engagement in firestopping.

Traditionally, service penetration sealing was considered too late in a construction project.

However, many contractors are now prioritising fire safety from the outset by engaging early with key stakeholders to ensure the installation of firestopping products is in line with tested details and manufacturers’ guidance.

A recent poll by Quelfire revealed that 74% of respondents had begun adopting an early engagement approach, highlighting the industry’s commitment to enhancing building safety across the UK.

Increased ethics and responsibility

According to Quelfire, the Building Safety Act has pushed the construction industry towards greater responsibility and ethical behaviour.

Tighter building regulations have placed clear responsibilities on individuals.

The Building Safety Regulator now oversees the safety and performance of high-rise buildings.

Dutyholders and Accountable Persons must maintain the Golden Thread of Information, ensuring accurate and up-to-date information about the building is available throughout its lifecycle.

Industry professionals must meet the requirements of Gateways Two and Three at critical stages of design and construction to ensure compliance.

Building owners and managers are required to regularly inspect active fire systems such as fire doors and sprinklers, engage with residents about fire safety, and create clear instructions for emergencies.

Non-adherence to industry regulations can result in criminal charges, fines, or even prison sentences.

Looking to the future

Quelfire notes that although the industry’s progress is somewhat driven by government legislation, it also highlights a cultural shift and a desire to prioritise fire safety.

The Grenfell United group, formed to drive justice for the 72 lives lost, has been influential in driving this change.

While it is shocking to know that the Grenfell Tower fire could have been avoided, the changes we are seeing today pay homage to the lives lost and the wider community affected by this tragedy.

Many commendable companies, organisations, and individuals are working together with a common goal of making buildings safer.

As reported by Quelfire, the industry’s efforts and positive changes must continue to ensure that such a tragedy never happens again.

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