Carrying out a Fire Risk Assessment in a block of Flats

Carrying out a Fire Risk Assessment in a block of Flats should be easy, shouldn’t it? After all, there is clear guidance in Approved Document B (Volume 1) of the Building Regulations, the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order, Approved Document M, guidance documents from the Local Government Association (withdrawn, and republished by the Home Office), PAS 79, and a host of other documents, some old, and some new like the Fire Act 2021 which will come soon become enforceable.

Some of these apply to all blocks of flats, and some only to new ones, but all of them say any multi-occupied (residential) premises need a Fire Risk Assessment. That includes a house converted to two flats, as well as multi-story blocks, and everything in between.

There are 4 types of Fire Risk Assessment. The most common is a type 1 where only the common areas are inspected, and it is non-destructive. Type 3 also includes the individual dwellings (flats). Types 2 and 4 are destructive, and we rarely carry out destructive risk assessments.

A Fire Risk Assessment is based on the Fire Strategy, and many landlords / owners (Responsible Person) do not even know what one is, let alone if they have one. So, we are here to help.

We at Precision Safety have to know what, and when to apply these regulations and guidance documents, and apply them in a consistent and reasonable manner. We have to give suitable and sufficient advice to keep residents safe even if, despite everyone’s best efforts, a fire did break out.

At the same time, there has to be a balance between what is absolutely required and you must do it; and what is not but still presents a significant risk to those in the building. We will guide you on your Fire Strategy, on assessing the level of risk, and possible solutions to lower or eliminate risk. Not only will you do what is legally required – all that is reasonably practicable to reduce risk, but you can prove that you have done it.

Often, the solutions are easy, and cost little or nothing to achieve like documenting your Fire Emergency Evacuation Plan, and giving it to all residents (for example, let them know whether to get out, or stay put). Others might require more time and effort, like upgrading the flat doors to fire resisting doors which is now the landlord’s responsibility. We discuss with you what you already have, and what you still need to do, and when. And all of this is based on an increasingly rare commodity – common sense.

The new Building Safety Bill puts special emphasis on the 18-meter height rule, and Approved Document B has a trigger height of 11-meters. 

But where do you measure from and to? It matters! Knowing which Regulation applies to your building can save many thousands of pounds by, for example, not needing to fit a sprinkler system.

And it does not need to stop there. You are required to “Manage” your building. We at Precision can maintain the fire safety systems of your building. There are fire extinguisher certification checks that need to be completed annually, Emergency Lighting and Fire Alarm systems also need bi-annual certification checks. And if one goes wrong, we can fix or replace it after your agreement. We can even do lightning conductors, if your building has one. 

There is so much that needs to be done. Precision help and guide you, providing completed documentation where we can, and drafts which are simple to complete and understand when we can’t. Do you need a checklist? We will provide one. Do you need a Fire Emergency Evacuation Plan? We will help you create one. Why should you reinvent the wheel? Let us help.

 

HM Government Introduces 30 Million Pound Waking Watch Relief Fund

An EMS fire system being installed in central London
Wireless Fire System by EMS.

Finally stung in to action by media articles and blogs such as our own,Historic Wartime Blitz Measures Return to a Building Near You! article , or Tower Block Economical Fire Safety Solutions

At last the current government are finally, after over three years, seeking to ease the plight of owners and tenants in Tower Blocks above 18 Metres affected by the scandal of flammable cladding.

Since the tragic events witnessed at Grenfell Tower in June 2017 Tower Block Resident Committees and Managing Agents throughout the UK have had to address the safety of those living in unsafe buildings. 

Many resorted to employing expensive “waking watch” companies who patrol affected buildings 24 Hours and 365 Days a year.

This was a cheap option when looked at monthly set against the one off cost of an alarm system, but in hindsight massively expensive. There are instances where to date Tower Block Residents have had to pay a combined total of over three million pounds over the three year period.

A cost that could have been reduced tenfold if those in charge had only taken up the option of installing alarms instead.

Recognising that many owners and tenants are stuck paying these ridiculously high charges, the Government have at last acted and introduced a relief fund to address the situation.

  • New £30million Waking Watch Relief Fund for fire alarms to reduce costs for leaseholders forced to have a waking watch
  • £1 billion Building Safety Fund deadlines extended to ensure more eligible buildings can remove unsafe cladding
  • Around 95% of buildings with dangerous ‘Grenfell type’ ACM cladding to have completed remediation, or have workers on site by the end of the year

To date over 2800 building applications have been received from eligible sites, over 1600 from London alone.

Precision Safety Services Ltd specialise in Tower Block Alarm System Design and Installation.

Here is a link to the Government site and the claim forms

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/remediation-of-non-acm-buildings#building-safety-fund-registration-statistics 

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-30-million-waking-watch-relief-fund-announced

Let us assist you towards safety at an ongoing cost you can afford! Get In touch today !


 

Tower Block Economical Fire Safety Solutions

BBC releases story about the cost of wardens similar to Historic Wartime Blitz Measures!
This week the BBC released an article highlighting owner concerns over the growing cost of likely renovations to their homes in Tower Blocks in the wake of the tragic events at Grenfell Towers.

A situation we highlighted several weeks ago in a previous blog post

A resident of such a block in Leeds was interviewed and expressed considerable concern regarding how the situation had “wrecked her life”.
She explained how she, and other residents, had to pay £400 per month for “Fire Watchers” a situation that has been the case for over three years.
Also Estate Agent’s are reporting that prices are being driven down by buyers running scared of purchasing a Flat that has ongoing issues, adding to owners woes.

It seems very strange to us that management committees are spending such vast amounts of money on something that might have to be in place for years, yet has no beneficial Fire Safety impact on the building long term; particularly so when an Alarm System is going to be needed anyway and would calm Fire Safety fears?
At Precision Safety Services Ltd have been asked to consider several projects to install Specialist Wireless Fire Alarm Systems to buildings that are currently being “watched” day and night by teams employed specifically to spot a fire and raise the alarm.
These systems are industry recognised and are simple to install, causing very little disruption to the fabric of the building.
The Alarm System would replace the costly “Watching Teams” that are in no way a long term solution and will provide immediate warning throughout a Tower Block whenever a fire starts, even if a property is unoccupied.
Should you wish a quote for your building to have such a system installed please contact us and one of our consultants will be able assist you.
Until then stay vigilant! Stay safe!

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