Fire & Building Safety Forum for Student Accommodation & Residential Property Sector
The second event for the Fire & Building Safety Forum for Student Accommodation & Residential Property Sector was held recently in London. Kindly hosted by Informa, the event brought together a diverse range of stakeholders within the space. The forum launched by Darren Hicks the Health and Safety Director at iQ Student Accommodation in conjunction with Kennedys and Irwin and Colton; is an opportunity for those involved with tall buildings to share ideas, different perspectives and best practice.
Those attending represent the owners and operators of 100’s of Tall Buildings with hundreds of thousands of residents. With such an important topic the forum is an excellent opportunity to have a big impact.
The most recent event focused on the approaches to the Building Safety Case Report and saw Andrew Saunders and Nikki Childs from the HSE Building Safety Regulator, Simon Whittaker from the Great Manchester Fire & Rescue Service, and Shaun Lundy Director of Strategy & Innovation at property and safety risk specialist Tetra presenting.
Simon gave a great overview and tangible examples from his many years in the fire service. He touched on how the Fire Service inspect tall buildings and talked about the benefits of a Primary Authority and how to prioritise updating fire risk assessments in tall buildings. As always, his insight was of real benefit to the forum. His parting comment that ‘it's much better to work with the responsible person’ was a common theme throughout the day, a joined up, collaborative approach clearly is key.
Andrew Saunders gave an excellent overview from the regulator standpoint. This included an overview of the ‘Safety case vs Safety case report’ stressing that proportionality is key, ‘The measures in place, and the demonstration to BSR, should be proportionate to the risks in that particular building’. Andrew also reiterated the process from here whereby from next April the BSR plans to assess existing buildings over a period of 5 years, however he stressed that safety case reports should be completed as soon as reasonably practicable once the duties are in place, rather than waiting.
Shaun then took the stage to run an excellent Workshop & Discussion across Safety Case Reporting. Tetra are at the forefront of the space, working with many partners and clients to help them navigate this journey. As a result, Shaun was uniquely placed to offer accurate insight, ideas, thoughts and examples. From the stages of the journey to the specific evidence that may be required, avoiding common pitfalls; the workshop offered a commonsense approach with excellent examples and a real assistance to those in attendance.
From listening to those in the room there was little discussion of technical challenges. From building assessments, fire risk assessments and structural surveys there are of course tweaks to improve but on the whole all solutions are using existing systems, tools and processes.
Rather, the real challenge appears to be non-technical, as Darren Hicks mentioned the key is to find a solution on ‘how we can work collectively’. Another speaker talked about the importance of ‘What is done with the assessments and surveys rather than the just surveys themselves which is key.’ A further example is that of working with external stakeholders to influence and manage to ensure the relevant information is delivered and captured. It is the ‘soft skills’ of influencing, communications, engaging which appear to be the real key to ensuring the successful delivery of projects.
James Irwin is a Director at Irwin and Colton, a specialist recruitment consultancy across the health, safety and sustainability space.