What does the Golden Thread principle mean for the UK fire services?


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Kyle Jones – Senior Business Development Manager UK for Uptick, explains the role digital job management software for buildings can play to meet the Golden Thread principles highlighted by Dame Judith Hackitt to improve building and fire safety. 

In what has been an uncertain and considerably disruptive year (or two) for us all due to the pandemic, remote work has been one constant for many throughout. The ongoing struggles of video conferencing, mute buttons, or my personal favourite – launching your meeting following your daughter’s home-schooling session to find she has amended your virtual background to Mr Bean – are well known to us all. 

Ultimately, working from home has enforced better communication lines across organisations and it is heartwarming to see the increasing appreciation towards businesses making a positive impact in this field. In our world, it has never been more important to ensure discussions and information around fire safety in buildings are transparent, and easy to access for stakeholders, such as building owners, occupiers and risk assessors. 

After all, fire safety belongs to everyone, not just fire safety professionals. 

The Golden Thread principle 

The ‘Golden thread’ was first coined in the UK fire industry by Dame Judith Hackitt, following her interim report of the Grenfell Tower fire review in 2017. In essence, the principle seeks to extend fire safety best practice beyond fire professionals to wider society, ensuring that the right people have the right information at the right time. This will ensure buildings are safe and building safety risks are managed throughout the building’s lifecycle. The ultimate goal is to arm end-users with all the information they require. 

The ‘Golden thread’ is both: 

  • the information about a building that allows someone to understand a building and keep it safe 
  • the information management to ensure the information is accurate, easily understandable, can be accessed by those who need it and is up to date” (Golden thread: factsheet updated 8 November 2021) 

As we continue to measure compliance and enforce consistency across the industry, solutions are being heavily invested in and developed to ensure businesses can operate within the guidelines. Asset & Compliance Management solutions allow a better way to maintain building safety, for instance. 

Digital job management software as a solution? 

The focus is on intelligent digitised job management software for building maintenance and compliance. The industry is hugely underserved, yet highly regulated and intricate, creating a unique opportunity to digitise fire safety working methods. Integration into the Building Information Management (BIM) process creates conditions for greater participation and better communication between all stakeholders on a project – from design, through to construction and occupation. Collaboration leads directly to increased quality and efficiency – a must for both profitability and sustainability within the sector. 

As someone who has spent over 10 years within the fire and security sector, I know all too well the challenges faced around outdated management systems and lack of automation. By providing back-office staff and on-site teams with the right tools to do their jobs, productivity increases as well as performance. 

Digitisation, automation and remote access to business tools can be transformative to a business – poor processes help no one. With tragic events across the globe over the past few years, it has propelled industry organisations to work towards more functional safety practises and better management of compliance. Grenfell remains a chilling reminder of the importance of fire safety and has played an intrinsic part in forcing the fire and wider construction industry to stand up and re-think the processes currently in place. 

Dame Judith Hackitt’s enquiry into Grenfell revealed a need for greater fail safes, and this is where digital adoption plays a huge role in guaranteeing the safety of buildings and end users. Supplying up to date and relevant information has an immeasurable benefit to the future of the industry. Digital tools not only improve standards, they improve record keeping and auditing at every stage, minimising costs and improving quality. 

Society’s expectations are continually evolving, and the industry must adapt. End users want visualisation of their property data, through digital services and improved user experience with a single source of truth. The use of cloud-based software can empower a business to provide this service to the fire industry. 

Industry organisations have historically been resistant to making changes due to time, regulatory or financial constraints. Investment of time now could, however, produce positive change. Creating a ‘Golden Thread’ of information will provide a source of truth that will be invaluable in the future as portfolios grow. 

Finding the right asset maintenance software is imperative to maintain building safety. By utilising innovative systems, information is digitised and easily accessible, paper waste is significantly reduced, and ultimately buildings across the UK will be safer. Software providers’ goals should be aligned with the industry’s own goals and focuses. By improving the safety of the buildings we all live and work in, the overall mission is to help building owners, managers and service providers do just that. 

Our responsibility for the ‘Golden Thread’ never stops. It’s an ever-evolving process that spans across the facility’s full life story and we all play an intrinsic role in delivering quality compliance. 

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