Advisory Working Group Meeting Pre DCW

Advisory Working Group Meeting Pre DCW

RICHARD This is the pre-DCW advisory meeting. We’ve had meetings for all the others now, so what we thought we’d do is go through the points that the others have raised. It’s all about looking at the guidance documents we produced a couple of years ago for 12 fire critical asset types and basically seeing if they’re still relevant in their current form. They haven’t been standing still, they’ve been on the website and people have been making comments and we’ve been updating over the last couple of years, but in light of the fire safety and building safety Acts it makes sense to see if they need things added in, taking out or just changing. We’ve only got an hour at DCW, so we want that meeting to some extent be as a rubber stamp for what’s been determined by these meetings. Debbie had some really good points that she’s put in an email, I was hoping to raise those points here, we’ll do that afterwards if there is time.

GEORGE I've taken the summaries from the other meetings which I can flash up and we can talk through if that would help. (shares screen). We’ve run a series of sessions over the last few weeks. This was the summary of what we did with the Development group, really to find out where people are on the journey. What was interesting is that some people have created digital twins and others are just gathering inspection and asset records and producing a safety case report. What I think was interesting about that is that although clearly that's something that is what the legislation requires, we had a good discussion around that identifying that really the report is only a snapshot in time and the legislation actually requires a permanent regime of management that keeps everything up-to-date so that at any one time the building safety team needs to be able to access that and ensure that they can both report to themselves and also to the regulator that that the building is safe. So I think that's an interesting dimension on things that it’s not just an aspect of have we got a fire risk assessment, have we got a safety case report? Ah, OK, we’re Ok for the next 5 years, then. I don’t know if anybody in this group would have a view on that.

PAUL WHITE If you look in BS9999 it has a whole annex of what you should be doing. I’m not sure but I think 9999-1 refers to the annex in 9999, however, because I have an inside track on it, there’s going to be an annex in the new 9999-1 which tells you how often you should be inspecting. Obviously, the implication is that if you’re inspecting you should be keeping records. 9999 is pretty comprehensive and I think a lot of people don’t realise how comprehensive it is. If you’re at the wrong end of this and somebody is saying, well, did you do this everyday, did you do this every week, then there is a great deal to do. I don’t know if anybody’s actually even seen it, I can pop it up on the screen if you like.

GEORGE I went to an event last week at Excel, the Building Safe for Futures workshop, Mark London from Devonshires the lawyers, a specialist in the social space, was saying…everybody’s asking when are we going to get a more prescriptive set of information requirements. He said there will be a lot more guidance coming through, that 9999-1 is perhaps an example of that. But he said there’s no point in people waiting for that because the real legal requirement is that you comply with the building regs and therefore a lot of the information is already there. But he said there’s a tsunami of additional sets of guidance, and also regulations, actually coming through. So, I think the responsibility is very considerable on people to actually get it right.

RICHARD Also, some of this guidance is going to be framed by the inputs that they’re having from the industry. So, it’s kind of a catch-22, you can’t have the guidance so you can make the input because it’s your input that’s going to be framing the guidance.

PAUL WHITE The point is a lot of this guidance is already out there, it’s just that people don’t know where it is and also perhaps think, oh, it doesn’t apply to me anyway.

SOMAYYA YAQUB I don’t think it’s they don’t know where it is, I think it’s they don’t wish (to an extent) to know where it is. There’s an element of it, we’re trying to do the minimum, we’re getting through, and i’ve heard over the past week or two with Mr Baker stepping away, some people think that’s alright then because a new person coming in is going to be gentler, it’s going to take a longer time, it’s going to be kicked into the long grass and we’re alright. And actually let’s get these building safety cases done, they’re going to be one-offs because everyone's running around like headless chickens to collate this information, if you haven't got it digitalised. And a lot of social landlords and local authority landlords haven’t, so we're running around like headless chickens to get it done and there you are at the end of your appraisal and that's it. But you need to have them robust systems and processes in place for the golden thread, and I'm my concern is that that is not actually happening because we're in this headlong rush to get this stuff done, but the building blocks there, they're not actually solid.

GEORGE I absolutely agree. I think part of the difficulty is that people are obviously, understandably, trying to get through the gateways and get through what the immediate liability is. And that's obviously a sensible thing to do, for existing buildings, for example, you've got to get floor plans into the premises information boxes, you've got to have the information about the key assets and you’ve got to have a safety case report, but the safety case report is only a snapshot in time. What I think is being missed, we’re working on a project at the moment where the fire stopping information is held in a system, Bolster, and when we’ve actually gone and looked at it the council is just know commissioning a new fire stopping survey and the new report that’s going to come out doesn’t relate to the previous one. So therefore, the fire stopping assets that are being inspected, what’s actually being recorded in the survey tool, which is creating a golden thread, by the way, that's the way it's being sold. It's creating a digital record, but it's a digital record of the inspection not of the asset. So therefore, every time a new inspection is done, maybe every couple of years or something like that of fire stopping, or maybe even fire doors, what you're actually doing is creating a brand new record that's got no relationship with the asset that it related to.

PAUL WHITE I’ve seen the same thing, George, n the fact that somebody has gone round and done an inspection and presented it to the building owner, the building owner has gone back to complain to somebody else that the installations weren’t good, so then they’ve had another report go round and looking at these 2 reports, there’s a few things wrong with them, but trying to tie each individual product together was a little bit difficult, but there does seem to be some sort of asset reference. But then when I look at it and they ask me to comment I ‘m thinking, yeah, well yeah, but they’ve missed this, this, this and this anyway because whether they say it’s installed properly or not, I can see it probably isn’t. One of the issues is that this whole process of finding so many things that are wrong nobody knows what to do about it which is muddying it even worse than the fact that they’ve got it all registered. Now that they’ve got it registered it becomes a problem because they’ve got to sort it out.

SOMAYYA YAQUB I'm aware of a block and it's this is relevant necessary to where I work, it's a new build block, it's time to hand over to those who are gonna be maintaining it, the building safety team, the compliance team. They've turned around and said we're not taking it on. Why is that? Well, we haven't got the information. The people who are handing it over and said this is a file, this is what information we've got, all the plans etcetera. But the people who are taking it on saying our systems won’t accommodate these plans, we can't put these plans in, we can't use these. This isn't systems we use, these aren't the contracts we've got in place. So there still is a lot of disjointed approaches and that's of concern considering the building safety case, the golden thread and making sure things are aligned and everyone's feeding into each other. And I would be interested to see how things progress over the next three months in particular as people are registering their building safety case by October.

JAREK WITYK Just one kind of idea, we have been talking about this missing link, the relationship link between the successive report. I think maybe I’m oversimplifying it, but considering you’ve got an existing asset and you’re managing it through its lifetime, rather than requesting or accepting new reports we should be pushing for revision of existing and constantly revising existing, and then we’ll achieve the link.

GEORGE I absolutely agree. I’m going to go onto that as a suggestion. I think what we should be doing is following proper asset management processes and that is you’ve got a defined building that’s got an ID, you’ve got defined spaces in that building because no asset information is valid unless you’ve got location for the asset. So, we need to have defined spaces and then defined systems supporting those spaces and those systems might be smoke control, ventilation, compartment walls for example. And then you’ve got the individual assets that go to make up those systems and then the products that have been used to satisfy those assets. And if we try and follow that methodology I think we’ve got a chance of creating some order into what is a very challenging and chaotic situation.

JAREK WITYK I think so. So basically, let’s say the owner of the asset has its own requirements to accept and receive information in a certain format and everyone needs to follow that format, though the format may change throughout the lifetime. But the main driver is the appointing party, the client and everyone has to just keep revising existing information, a kind of plug and play modular approach and that will maintain the continuity and relationship as well.

GEORGE Exactly. And if we follow the BIM protocols that have been well established for new build. we can apply those to existing buildings and therefore we’ve got a mechanism to glue all of that together. OK, just pressing on, this was a result of the development group’s meeting, this was the design group. I’ve put a preface on there and that’s from the conversation that we had with Mark London, the new guidance, but just referring things to building regs I think is an overwhelming task because when we did some research on this we fund that building regs requires people to be able to read and understand 800 different standards, and that’s being added to as well. I’m not sure how we address that, I think we need to be able to simplify that in some way.

PAUL WHITE I think that’s the problem because I think there’s a guide to everyone of those standards from whoever is involved with it. The problem is, it’s 800 different standards but say 400 of those are British standards, for instance, and they’re going to be a minimum of £200 each, the investment alone in buying the standards so that you can even look at them is huge. And then you’ve got to rely on the fact that…The problem with the standards, Debbie, is they’re sold to support the management team that uses all of our free labour to develop the standards because that’s not a free-to-air thing which a lot of trade associations are doing things free-to-air, obviously, there’s a few key ones that aren’t that probably ought to be. But again it means that people have got to change their business models and I don’t think that’s going to happen. But the other thing you’ve got to rely on is that the people interpreting the standards, if you’ve employed them to interpret them for you, are interpreting them correctly anyway because I’m seeing a lot of things where people just simply quote a standard and don’t understand why it can’t be met. Oh, it’s in the specification, well, you can’t meet it.

SOMAYYA YAQUB I think you’ve just hit on a point there which is critical, that interpretation of the standard. You can put three fire engineers in and ask them and they will come out with different responses and you’ve got a risk with that. They’re not completely off the radar, but there will be three…and there is that risk and we want the guidance that’s going to come out, it’s to be clear and away from ambiguity because those who will want to will try and do the quick win out of it. But it’s absolute bonkers to an extent and with the amount that’s coming out on the pace, but the fundamentals I think is right, going back to what the chap from Devonshire said and what George is saying, it’s getting compliant will building regs, getting the basics right and having relevant information that we should have had from years ago and getting TDM done as we should be getting done.

GEORGE I agree. There’s so much we can do and there’s so much we can’t do and I don’t think we’re going to see, as Paul was saying there, a change in the way standards are being released, the inertia there is huge. That’s a major challenge and maybe what we as a little community can do is really have some expert interpretation of the relevant elements for a particular context. One of the problems with the standards is they’re only relevant to that particular solution in that particular context, so I don’t think what we’re trying to do is taking away any liability on people to be managing this situation. Designers have still got a liability to have used their professional judgement and the available information, so if they’re supposed to refer to building regs standards and they don’t have access to them then to some extent thats’ something we can’t do anything about.

I’ll come onto the example that we were hoping to sue for next week. I’m revisiting the one that we did last year that we’ve used as a consistent example, just so that we can get people to start thinking along the right lines. The other consistent thing that’s being fed back, both from the design and construction group, is this whole thing about contractor design portion and when that design work needs to be completed. The new regulations require information to be, or the design to be completed before the construction starts which in any other industry would be blindingly obvious, but obviously things like building services are often left until half way through construction. So, there’s a consensus that seems to be happening and one of the big contractors was telling me yesterday that they’ve actually withdrawn from a particular scheme that they were being asked to build because they don’t believe the design is adequately complete. That’s a very interesting development, it’s a very brave thing for them to do, I guess. The client was shocked, what they said to the client was the legal liability is just too great for them, unless the design is complete then they’re taking on too much risk.

PAUL WHITE It’s interesting to see that somebody has actually done that because the conversations that we’ve had, George, and with my other colleague Paul, if you don’t put the space in for the services then you can’t fit them. And where this used to be somebody solved a problem by putting it in and hiding it, they can’t do that anymore. That’s the main issue, if the building is designed wrong how do you fit a smoke control system in it.

GEORGE Yeah, and this is one of the biggest Tier 1s.

PAUL WHITE Yeah. I’m pleased to hear that, but as you say it’s very brave, but we’ll see what goes on.

GEORGE So, that’s the feedback from the design group, this is the feedback from the operations group. One of the things we discussed there was the golden thread has been, arguably, too successful because the operations teams are now starting to see that they’re getting dozens of golden threads. A golden thread for fire doors, in fact there’s a golden thread for the fire door manufacturer where they’re putting a data key into the actual door, an RFID code or whatever, so that that pulls back all of the manufacturing detail. You’ve then got a golden thread for the installer and a golden thread for the inspector, so you’ve then got three golden threads, unless they all tie back to the same door object, it’s the same problem as fire stopping. And then you’ve got the same for dampers and the other elements as well which, obviously, BIM can help with that if we can have common data templates that allow that information all to be federated.

And then manufacturing, the big feedback that the team are concerned about, they’re more than happy to provide the product data, but they’ve said they were particularly concerned whether the product was actually being installed in the right context. That’s an area that I know Paul MoSoley from Mace, that was part of what we were trying to do at last years DCW, which I think became overcomplicated. What we tried to do at last years DCW was look at the context in which things like fire dampers and smoke dampers were being installed.

DAVE PEACOCK Yeah, it was a good discussion last year, it just ran out of time, really.

GEORGE Yeah, but it’s very complicated. Paul McSoley’s been trying to simplify that decision tree process so that there’s a mechanism whereby the product selection of the individual product can also be related to the things that it’s going into. One of the thoughts I’ve been having is whether we could include the manufacturers in the selection process, maybe at technical submittal stage, so that when a product is being selected the manufacturer is informed so that they can see within the BIM model where that particular item is being installed. I’ve suggested that to a couple of contractors and they think that’s a good idea.

PAUL WHITE You might find that the manufacturers don’t think it’s a great idea because there is an issue at the moment about manufacturers getting drawn into being part of the design process. So if they put a product on the market and tell you how to install it, if you’ve then told them you’re going to install it in a different way and they miss it, does that then mean they are a part of the design process and therefore culpable. That area is a bit grey at the moment, to say the least.

GEORGE I think it is and that is something that has been raised on both sides of the equation. The thing is, though, did Michael Gove, when he was having the spat with CPA last year and the CPA took that position, in other words the manufacturers don’t have any responsibility for where the product is installed, my understanding is that Michael Gove said we’ll let the lawyers sort that out.

PAUL WHITE Yeah, and thats; the point. So there’s no decision so you're unlikely to get any input from manufacturers because if they’re felt to be liable they’re going to be difficult about it.

GEORGE I agree. I wonder if there is a way of doing it that allows the manufacturer to be part of it without taking on the liability.

PAUL WHITE I think if things are straightforward then that’s not the problem, the issue comes when you’re addressing something slightly different and how you go about that process and at the moment nobody is wanting to go about that process. Because of the level of risk of too many people disagreeing with you, so it then comes back down to somebody has to make a design decision and if it’s not quite exactly as the tested method and something was to go wrong in the future, we’re going through this period now where there is no rom for risk, there’s no flexibility at the moment and it’s a real problem.

GEORGE Yeah, because we’re in a situation where it’s all about risk transfer rather than risk avoidance through collaboration.

PAUL WHITE Yeah, and consistent thought. But I see it all the time in the fact that I’ll see a fire strategy and there won’t be any justification of it, oh, we’re not going to do that, or it’s just a little bit longer so it doesn’t matter. There’s no actual calculated support for this and I think some things like that are going to have to change, but at the moment they don’t seem to be doing so. At one point because it’s obviously an area that engineers understand, you’ll get a whole load of calculations about how many people you can get out of the building in time, and then there will be something like, oh, this wall’s OK, we don’t worry about that. And that’s a justification and there is no equal weight put on different changes, so it us very strange. But again, with the manufacturers, if they’re given a BIM model a) they’ve got have something through which they can read the BIM model and in the past I never had access to that as a manufacturer. And if you misread it or you miss something it’s your fault. Or somebody changes the wall later down the line and you haven’t seen the latest you’ve got to go back through all this route that’s saying, well, when we did it, it was right because you’ve lost control of the change management.

GEORGE These sorts of things, that later one, I’d have thought there is a method that you could follow there. David could you say that at a point in time that’s what it’s being assessed at?

PAUL WHITE I think you can, George, it’s just a burden of proof after the event: who changed it, when did it get changed.

GEORGE I’m thinking at technical submittal stage, if you did it at that stage I think that’s a contractural point. The difficult is technical submittals are probably too late. Well, we discussed this yesterday, we may not call it technical submittal, it may be product selection, or something like that. It’s where you go from descriptive specification to prescriptive specification to actual product, isn’t it?

PAUL WHITE I’m still seeing specifications that basically say something along the lines of it must have a green line running down here because they’re trying to specify a manufacturers product. That’s a very simplified version, you know, it should have stainless steel rivets on the left hand side, because they’re trying to make it so they have to pick a product. But that’s not really got anything to do with its function because the function is simply down to whether it’s tested in that given wall, or not. The issue that you’ve got is that different manufacturers will want different sized holes, so it’s all very well if somebody selected it and put in a hole of a certain size. But I don’t think there’s a size where one size fits all, so it might be that somebody will say we’ll use that manufacturer, but the holes too big for them or too small for them.

GEORGE And that’s why people are saying that the actual product needs to be selected before the holes are created.

PAUL WHITE Yeah, but then I have another concern about that because if one manufacturer has got a bigger sales force than another and they’ve been around and done a really good job and all these projects fall at the same time, one manufacturer isn’t going to have the capacity to fulfil the orders that it needs for all the work that its got. So at some point there will always be this thing where somebody will have to go elsewhere to get something because they have no choice. If somebody does a really good selling job and they’re in there, suddenly in 6 months-time, potentially they’re the only people who are going to have any work.

GEORGE I guess the problem is we’ve got to try and deal with the 80% rather than the 100%. The problem is at the moment a lot of things get changed, probably not for those type of reasons, but for others. The approach that I think would address some of these issues with the asset information is that BIM, for example, should tell us where things are and we ought to be making sure that we’ve at least got all that information. I know that seems blindingly obvious but we’re still coming across projects where the spaces haven’t been properly defined and we’ve got COBie data where assets aren’t tied back to spaces and products aren’t related to assets. I think those are fundamental principles, but the other aspect, as Richard was saying earlier, we obviously did all that work a couple of years ago on the 12 key asset types and we’ve actually got those which we’re revisiting at the moment to get them up-to-date. But in most cases there is at least 10 pages of information required and partially that’s because whoever you talk to on the asset side of things, they’ll have a different set of information.

Somayya, for example, her perspective of safety, she’ll want different information than maybe someone who is looking at life cycle replacement. And the same from the point of view of design, you’ve got the information that’s needed for each of those different elements. Everybody’s got a different information requirement and therefore what we should be doing is making it so that information can be filtered and presented according to the particular viewer, which from an information management point of view is straightforward to do, but we’ve just got to make sure that we’re capturing the asset information in a way that can then be updated.

My suggestion for what we’re looking to do next week is to have something where we take the example that we used last year and that is, in this particular case it’s student accommodation, you’ve got a fire breaks out here and the hazard is the spread of smoke and therefore you’ve got three measures that are in place, the compartment, smoke control and detection. The question is, which we tried to answer last year, what information do we need to know about the assets to ensure that when the scenario happens that it will actually perform. I was thinking of looking at what the various different working groups were asking and then relating it to these three areas. Jarek and I have spoken this morning about trying to interpret what those requirements are into something that is then a specific question we could ask the groups to manage. Has anybody got a view on that?

JAREK WITYK This what we’ve done last time, I think an opportunity was missed to gain more out of the people who were there with such good ideas. What we need is to summarise what we know then make everyone aware of what we know, where we are, and ask specific questions, what and how questions, for the specific items which we know already the problems, Because there is not enough time, the time went so fast, so we really need to be so specific, we need to choose what questions we want to ask, only the most important, and we need to ask specific questions to get the answers, otherwise it will be a missed opportunity. It would be a good PR event, but not as beneficial as it could be.

GEORGE I agree with you. So, how do you think we might go about that?

JAREK WITYK Listening to what you said, I made some notes. So, the questions based on what we just discussed, for example, people don’t know where to go, where to look for guidance. Question: How do we simplify guidance and access? Another issue, continuity of reporting is broken, I then suggested maybe we should propose revision and, if we agree with that, how do we achieve this? A question like that. You mention the records at the moment are a snapshot in time, not the live data. So the question should be how do we make the information live? By the way, while you’ve been talking about all of this, in the back of my mind there was a common data environment as a glue of all of this information, and I believe after the research I’ve done it seems like the client, the appointing party, should own that CDE? and only then can it be efficiently managed. You can make the supply chain to do what you want and access information that’s there, although in relation to BIM and the maintenance, the operation of the building, that part is the least developed and there’s lots of problems with it. To go back to my questions, a simple question should be how do we resolve this? We may get very good ideas if we ask questions that way. Present specific problems and ask specific questions, but first describe, because some people might not know what we all know, what we’ve discussed so much.

RICHARD I think we’ve got to be very careful here. I totally agree with you, what you’re saying in the questions, but I think there’s not a cat’s chance in hell of getting those answered in 45 minutes.

JAREK WITYK Well, last time we spoke about this, at least the table I was at, we didn’t really have anything specific…

RICHARD I’m not suggesting we do it like last year, I agree we’ve got to have the questions, but I think rather than just having the questions to some extent there’s got to be an element of we’d like answering the questions and getting an agreement, extra input, rather than just going in clod with the questions because they don’t have time to answer. By the time you’ve done the discussion you won’t get any answers, and you certainly won’t get through 5 or 6 questions.

GEORGE I think Jarek agrees with you there, it’s a matter of determining what those simple questions need to be.

PAUL WHITE I’m listening here and looking at this and I’m just trying to put it into some sort of perspective. The point is that the designer should know about compartmentation, smoke control and detection. They have to know about that otherwise they can’t design this. That’s the fundamental problem with regard to this, and then when you go under compartmentation you’ve got a whole load of separate products and when you look at those products the people who supply them, generally speaking are the experts and well have a load of experts sat around the table. The point is that it’s the designer is the one who has to put it all together because mostly, and I sit on both sides of the fence a little bit, I know about smoke control design and I know how to select the products, but I then would go to the people to get the products. But the issue that we have here is that the designers and specifiers just know that they need a thing, but they don’t know the constraints that apply to their design about that, and I think that’s the issue. So, last year we all sat round and said fire doors need to do this and dampers need to do this, well, we all know that, but the point is how do we educate the designers, I think is probably the issue.

GEORGE That’s an interesting point. If it’s a matter of how do the experts educate the people that need to use their expertise and indeed how do the clients procure that, that might be a simpler question to tackle in 45 minutes.

SOMAYYA YAQUB I think all points said are relevant, I think what Paul said hit the nail on the head. Those specifying and those designing, there is a lack of communication there, but the client says I want this and the architect is designing and going, right, this is what we’ve got. The designer is coming along and going yes, this is perfect, not speaking to manufacturers or the people who are going to maintain it and whose going to be using it at the end. Is it going to be suitable, can we use this, is it going to work, and can we readily get the parts. I’ve been involved in certain developments where we’re having to wait 12 or 15 weeks for ridiculous components, but we could have got them from the UK or somewhere else, there’s a disconnect there. There needs to be that communication, what we’ve got with the risk thing is we’re very focused, which is great, but there is more silo and we need to get that web.

PAUL WHITE I look at that drawing, George, and I’ll say there is a fire door there and then a load of people know about fire doors, but they don’t know how that ties in with the smoke control system. They might have a rough idea of how it works with compartmentation, but you’ve got to make sure the compartmentation isn’t ruined by the smoke control. And these things just go round and round, but it does fundamentally mean that somehow or other the designers need to know how to design, and I’m not convinced that they do.

JAREK WITYK So that’s why because we’ve got limited time, because we know the problems we want to tackle and talk about, we should be asking how or what questions, specific, to use the time we have. Otherwise we’ll just have a very good conversation, and that’s all.

GEORGE I agree. So, those questions about how and what, I’m not sure about the why, I’m big into ‘whys’, very much so, but…

JAREK WITYK I think how is probably the best question which was mentioned a lot of times during this conversation. It seems like it’s a good question to ask. And then we may actually have very good ideas which we can do something about, otherwise we’ll have a lot of useful information which we’ll be overloaded with and it’s too much to deal with.

GEORGE Yes. So, if we talk about how as a process, rather than that which is the detail of the information about all of those different asset types, that might be a good way of doing that. It’s that cascading, looking at it from the bottom, how do the operations team inform everybody about what their requirements are? How do the manufacturers provide the information in an effective way to designers? How do the designers provide, make sure that the clients are aware? is that the sort of thing that we could…

JAREK WITYK Yeah, I think that’s perfect. How do we prevent one product installed…being installed correctly? With those sort of questions we actually may achieve some solutions and we’ll have something solid to work with and actually do something and finalise something.

PAUL WHITE I think probably a good question is how do we ensure that products are selected and installed correctly? And maybe it’s as simple as that because everybody will say we all provide our information and it’s up to them to read it, so I know what the answer to that bit is going to be. But the point is how do we prevent incorrect selection and install. The question is how do we prevent the incorrect selection and installation of fire resisting products?

GEORGE Would you say the specification also? Or it’s more the selection?

PAUL WHITE It’s design for and installation because if they’re not designed for then you can’t select. Then the second part is because of the wrong design and because of the wrong selection they’re installed incorrectly.

DEBBIE I think it sounds very sensible. Also for me, from a competencies perspective, there's no point in interpreting product information unless it's the correct information, to determine if there's any specific competency requirements. So if you have no trust in what someone provides on that cause we can make sense of that product data from a competency perspective, we'll have new capabilities to show that soon. So you can link this product information and specification to the target competency profiles of the installers, so it has another advantage if we can get this. Sorry, it's a bit tangential, but it is important, otherwise I'm worrying/wiring? to something that isn't useful.

SOMAYYA YAQUB I think it would be useful, cost comes into it a lot. The first thing is we’re gonna have this, it’s fantastic and looks great, crack on, starts to design, starts to build. Oh, it’s actually costing us this, can we get around this now? What’s the best way, can we get another 100K off this. We’ve had developments whereby we’ve created confined spaces, you can’t access a plan suitably at all. The clearer the information, the clearer as to why you select a particular product, what the two connects need to be with the design and the selection, I think that is key critical. Because unfortunately as much is there is lots of industry standards and various things, there are some bodies who require a professional body to come out and state something in writing and say I’ve got these industry people to come around the table and this is what they’ve come up with, and that actually has more benefit and is accepted and used widely. That would be really helpful because it’s happening on a daily basis, what the designer decides and what’s actually being installed because it wasn’t going to be suitable because the designer is living in cloud cuckoo land. And I don’t mean that they’re off their head, but there is just such a disconnect at times and that thing of just sitting around the table and just getting to the basics.

GEORGE I agree. One of the interesting things with that is the role of BIM4housing, obviously we’re just a community so we’ve got no real traction, but it was interesting Tina Mistry wrote something this morning, she was saying that just having a tick box against something isn’t the way. I fundamentally agree, that’s really what we’re trying to do with this whole risk-based approach. If we can go down that track, Paul McSoley was saying…he’s been doing work with the Passive Fire Group and they’ve been doing good work in terms of terms of how the decision trees are for how things are being selected to create things. He said one of the challenges is that people are being very protective about it being released. So, he’s putting a load of work into this and should it be Mace that puts it out, should it be Balfour Beatty etc, so we’re having a conversation later to see if there is a way that we can do that.

That’s been really helpful from my perspective, I think we’re getting there. Would you mind writing up the sentence that you’ve just articulated, Paul? And put it in the chat. I think if we can then use that and then relate it back to, as Somayya is saying, fundamentally we need to make sure that for the right product to be specified and provided we’ve got to have the right space, they systems have got to be right that those products are going into and the information about the asset has got to be recorded as well. So, it goes back to the principles that I was suggesting earlier that we follow the asset management protocols and say, right, you’ve got building, space, system, and asset. I think that provides the hooks for us to tie stuff into. Would you agree with that, Jarek?

JAREK WITYK Yeah, I agree. I think if we could get more how questions from each of us…

RICHARD I think the point is we’re talking about DCW, but these valid questions being raised such as Jarek’s, they certainly need answering at some point, don’t they?

PAUL WHITE Yes. I think in summary of Paul McSoley’s, which pretty much goes for all the passive fire type protection and some of the smoke control ones as well, the first thing is what wall have you selected and the next thing is have you provided enough space around your penetrations to allow the seals to be installed. And it isn’t actually anymore complicated that that, the problem is that the dimensions are different in every case and how to…space is the word that I always use, you’ve got to provide space to fit the services. If you’ve just put a 600 x 600 duct on a drawing you think that’s the hole it goes in, well, it isn’t. It’s gonna be 700 or 800 x 800 and then you can’t run pipes close to it and you can’t do this and the other. And this is the problem that nobody considers the space for the services, the only thing they consider is lettable space.

SOMAYYA YAQUB But Paul, I totally agree and this comes back to my point earlier about the PDCDM. These are the things that the principle designer needs to have factored in about specification, about the items that are going to be used, the maintenance of it, the supplies. And we are having a lot of fundamental bloody problems, and that’s where building safety is coming along, it goes back down to that. I’m on the board of a development company and we’ve got developments taking place and when we look at the site and the issues, and the HSE have got involved, on the risk register the PD is not considered at all and you want to bang your head. And then you’ve got the EA, so these people have key critical roles to play right from the onset, don’t expect them to have the knowledge, the niche, but they need to identify these because these are risks and they need to factor these in as in how they’re going to manage and control them.

We won’t have these issues then, I’ve got a 600 mil but the part I’ve ordered is for 900 mil and actually what was specified was 1200. So we can have lost of guidance, we can have this is the questions that need to be asked, but we need to get back to that bloody fundamental again, it needs to people to understand and get the job done. And you have got the idea, go and speak to them suppliers, speak to the manufacturers, but we just haven’t got that. But we are putting in bids, we’re trying to build i them building blocks. I said about the web, but we need it glued and solid because it is that PD who needs to do that critical role, but I just don’t think it’s happening.

PAUL WHITE I don’t know if we’re going off track slightly, but it is a bit of that because the architect has been tasked with maximising lettable space in a lot of instances, and then somebody goes back and says, well, you can’t have all of that lettable space, we’ve got to put this in and then it just goes back, well, sort it out, we don’t really need all of that do we, tell us where…I’ve heard this so many times, tell me where I have to do that? The answer to that is you have to do it because you need to be a proper designer and these things are getting lost a lot.

GEORGE In the car manufacturing industry I believe there are standardisations for the size of products that are going in. So if somebody is making alternators or something like that presumably there is a degree os standardisation in terms of the connections and all the rest of it.

PAUL WHITE Yes, I think there is, George, but the problem that you’ve got is that we have to do a fire test, so if it’s that sort of product, just penetration seal around pipes and cables you need a certain volume of the material that you put round them to make sure that you get the insulation and the fire doesn’t just conduct through the pipes. The point is if somebody has put in a load of bigger pipes then you might need more material or less material, so therefore it’s nebulous…

GEORGE They’re putting in bigger pipes because they need it because of the design?

PAUL WHITE Yes, but what I’m saying is there might be two big pipes or five little pipes, but around those you’ve got to have a certain volume of material. You might have to be an inch above and an inch below or something like that, you can’t just say, oh, we’ve got twenty 1/2 inch pipes therefore for the penetration seal will always be the same because you don’t know what centres they’ve been put in on, it could be going through a triangle or an oblong or whatever. Certainly the same with dampers, products have developed over the years and we’re using more flexible walls and you have to do something to the product to make sure that it passes the test. And if that’s putting gaps in round it or extra seal around it that’s why your hole could end up a different size.

GEORGE But partially, is that flexibility of alternatives being able to have all of these alternative solutions, is that not at the heart of the problem?

PAUL WHITE Well, if everybody built the same wall it would never ever be a problem, it’s the issue with the different types of walls that makes it more complicated, but that combined with the products being of different manufacture means that the problem multiplies.

GEORGE We’ve got to be careful that we don’t just end up complaining about the way the industry works. Certainly off-site manufacturing has been held up as being part of the solution for a long time, obviously L&Q…

PAUL WHITE The issue with that is you’ve got a whole bunch of hidden cavities and you’ve got stuff going through there that’s potentially not protected, so that’s a huge problem that needs solving.

SOMAYYA YAQUB I think that’s another bunch there that needs to be…I don’t think it’s going where it’s meant to be going.

PAUL WHITE They’re not getting a good track record at the moment when somebody actually manages to set fire to something. There’s too many routes for the fire to get round everything and there is a huge hidden cavity between each thing and that’s not necessarily adequately protected.

GEORGE As far as next week is concerned…have you got anything, Somayya, that you could add to those questions in the chat? Based on your experience, what would your how be?

SOMAYYA YAQUB How do we get people to sit around the table and talk to each other? That’s not something we can put out there. Can I come back to you on that to see how best we can, because for me I know the question and I know the answer, without sounding arrogant. It’s getting that better communication between those who are between the designers, the client and the one’s who are gong to be the specialists, the installers and getting them around…there’s so much going out there, so much in the industry and people are looking for solutions, carbon neutral etc, cheaper products on the market. By the time you’ve specified something and it comes round to it it’s 18 months later and there’s new products which are better and easier or might be more suited, how do we go about it then?

JAREK WITYK I’m thinking because there is so many people at this event and there’s so many experiences, if we ask questions which would be able to coax out from those people solutions they are already implementing that would be really valuable. To get the information of this is the problem, how do you actually deal with that? We may be surprised and amazed what people are already doing. And then we can tweak it and make it better or accept it as it is, and we might actually learn something.

GEORGE I rally like that, that’s a really good idea. So, how are you doing it, yeah. First of all do you agree with the question and secondly how are you doing it, or how do you plan to do it.

SOMAYYA YAQUB Well, they must be doing it. What I mean by that is how do they do it currently as in not how they’re getting round it, how are they dealing with it because this is on a daily basis. I’m not saying that’s the ideal way to do it.

PAUL WHITE Every specification I see around smoke control and dampers is essentially wrong. So they’er not getting round it, they’re getting round it by listing every single possible standard and saying comply with all of these whether they are relevant or not. So, there’s a huge learning curve for, shall we say, designers or consultants to go through. I even saw a specification last week referring to a BS476 part that’s never been relevant to that product and never was, even this project which was 20 years old, it was wrong then.

DEBBIE But surely this is also to do with who's accountable for what. This shouldn’t be pushing that down the line, that’s an accountability issue, that should be checked before hand. So, I think there is an element of doing what you’re accountable to do here and I find a lot of people in the industry don’t understand the difference between accountability and responsibility, so how do you manage risks. Somebody receiving that should just reject it because it’s not their responsibility. Their responsibility might be to interpret it and go back for questions, but it’s not accountable for writing the spec.

PAUL WHITE No, but that’s the point, Debbie, unfortunately it just gets pushed down. I discovered at some pint the design of the smoke control had been somehow or other put down to the ductwork contractor.

DEBBIE But if they have competency management in place you should have trace in your information that you’ve actually handed that accountability off, it’s part of the golden thread.

SOMAYYA YAQUB For me, one of the key is competencies, these people do not have the competency to look at a plan, to look at a spec and go no. In some cases they don’t have the backing.

DEBBIE It’s leadership, isn’t it? Governance and leadership. For me, if I was somebody who was a smart installer being told you’re installing product X, Y and all the rest, I’d go back to them and say what is the competency demand profile of that product that I’ve got to install because it’s your job to provide it. That’s how you pushback, we need the bottom of the chain pushing back upwards, they’ve got every right to demand that, to demand what’s the competency profile I should have to install that product.

PAUL WHITE But the danger is for them commercially that they don’t have it in the first place so why would they dare to ask for it and they then walk away from the work.
DEBBIE But if we don’t push both directions we’ve got no chance.

PAUL WHITE I completely understand. These guys are paying the mortgage, that’s why they take the work.

DEBBIE Yeah, but at the end of the day you need accountability pieces, it’s important in terms of the golden thread, it’s one of the key things and it’s not being understood.

JAREK WITYK Competency and accountability are probably the two biggest issues in the construction industry in general, therefore I don’t know it we want to discuss this there because I don’t know how much we can achieve. They’re very important, but I think we need to manage expectations and time. A question to Paul, no one is managing the issues specific to you, I think would that be fair to say they did manage it but they’re at the wrong end at the under of the building and then they tried to come up with various explanations of why we think we’re compliant.

PAUL WHITE I’m seeing that, but I’m also seeing it the other way, the designs aren’t coming through yet that are good. We’ve also got all the legacy projects where they probably weren’t necessarily designed in that way and maybe that’s going to stop. But people have woken up to discover that they have received this responsibility and accountability through the contracting chain and now they’re stopping and saying, ah, hang on, exactly as Debbie said, this is wrong, we can’t do this, we can’t take that liability. But of course because they’ve taken the liability and somebody’s already signed the contract it’s, well, actually you can do what you like, we don’t care anymore. Yeah, but we based this on your design, well, you shouldn’t have done, you’ve got design responsibility, do it yourself. So, we’ve still got all of that to go through and then, of course, because they’re in this position the commercial side of the business is then trying to pass it down still further.

So essentially, I don’t think you’re supposed to pass down a contract to somebody when you know they can’t do the work. Now, I don’t think contractors have ever said they’re going to be designers, however, they’ve got all these design and build contracts. So, the whole thing is just a complete mess at the moment, but the trouble is they’re finding out on the job at the moment and so therefore they’re coming up to mitigate it. The one that I mentioned, let’s try and use some 20 year old dampers on this project, it’s like who in their right…oh, well, we’re accountable, but this we, this person, doesn’t seem to be actually available. Oh, we’ve all agreed that that’s all right, I was thinking, how!? What tells you you're competent, how can you say…It’s like putting 20 year old brakes on your car, would you do that?

JAREK WITYK Paul, that would be a perfect introduction for next week’s event.

PAUL WHITE The point is I have to write something down about this and I’m trying not to laugh.

SOMAYYA YAQUB Paul you could write a whole book on this. I’m away next week out of the country, I wish I were going to be present there. But Paul, I think you’ve got to bring this in because this is what’s happening, and there should be some people hanging their heads in shame because this is what happens. We’re laughing about it now because it’s true and accurate, but it is hugely concerning, and it’s costly.

PAUL WHITE I think that’s the point. It isn’t costly because actually it’s saving money. The issue is if it goes wrong in the future, that’s when the cost comes.

SOMAYYA YAQUB That’s what I mean, it’s costly by them not doing it right in the first place and therefore it ends up being costly. If you do it right in the first place you’re not going to have that. If you look at some of the new builds that have gone up and I find this hilarious. I don’t live that far from central London and I was up in town last night and some of the new builds that have been completed in the past eight months or so, scaffolding has gone up already, the roof space which is usually flat roofs have got a guarantee, a warranty, they’re being null and void within 6 months of someone going out there and cutting a bit out. That golden thread, that information…some of the work ? 1hr 23mins 17secs haven’t even come off and there’s scaffolding and someone drilling through the wall and stuff. The point is things weren’t done right in the first place and therefore we’ve got these issues now carrying on.

GEORGE The format of the event next week, Paul, what I was planning to do was open up with a bit of a Powerpoint illustrating this, but if you could do 5 minutes on what you’ve just said.

PAUL WHITE Well, I have to be careful because I’m not sure I can say that out loud in front of a lot of people because I don’t know what they’re going to do.

SOMAYYA YAQUB Yeah, but your 20 year car analogy, I think you’ve got to use that.

PAUL WHITE The trouble is I think fi there was anybody there who was working on that project they might guess what I was talking about.

DEBBIE This is all about behaviour and cultural change. It comes back to Dame Judith Hackitt, this is about behaviour change, taking responsibility and being willing to act and shine a light on something you haven’t done before.

PAUL WHITE I know all the reasons why it should be done, it’s just impossible to see that anybody thought that it wouldn’t be. It just wouldn’t have crossed my radar until it happened.

GEORGE Have you got any examples like that, Jarek? The wrong product being selected.

JAREK WITYK I’ve got lots of examples but they are electrically biased, I’d have to think about making them fire safety.

SOMAYYA YAQUB Even electrical, I think, would have been easier because electrical can lead to fire related matters, a lot of fires are due to dodgy electrics or incorrect specification.

GEORGE The thing I think that’s consistent in terms of what we’re saying here is the information requirements need to provide something that is specific and explicit. Rather than relying on people interpreting standards we need to specification to be as explicit as possible and becoming increasingly explicit as the design develops. Is that a fair thing to say?

PAUL WHITE I think so, I think it needs to be narrowed down as you go through the design. I was going to show you that brief excerpt from 9999. This could be a little bit more specific, but I don’t believe anybody follows this, but I’ll show it to you. It’s a British standard that’s been in the public domain since 2017. (shares screen). Routine inspection and maintenance of fire safety installations that can't be clearer, then we have daily inspections, fire detection alarm systems. Any fault recorded the previous days received attention. How many times we've seen toilet rolls have print out inside panels. Emergency escape lighting, sprinkler systems. Fire door automatic release, that should be released daily. I think this was in the previous version as well, then you have weekly, everything that should happen daily, fire sprinkler systems. I think this standard is expensive because it’s a lot of pages, 400 pages, so it would probably be £400. But it is the fire strategy design guide for office blocks. The point is you can copy this down, it’s probably in my book if you want to read it.

What I’m saying is I don’t think that can be anymore specific, and yet I don’t think anybody does any of that. The point is you should be keeping a record of everything that you’ve done because if you found a fault and you haven’t fixed it, you should know you haven’t. Anything that you find in here now, if it’s an HRB, you should be reporting to the fire brigade, so these things are no longer hidden up, there’s a lot to do. But that standard I don’t think can be much more specific, I’ve rewritten it a bit for 9999-1 residential one because I think that smoke control is not delivered, but if you take the spirit of it, basically if there’s any faults on the smoke control system, shouldn’t you be checking for them everyday? Wouldn’t it be better if someone installed an automatic system? Yes, it’s more expensive, but if there is an issue with it and it’s in the back of beyond down by the canal and it’s got 6 flats in it, it will send you a text.

You can do all this stuff now and it can tell you that there’s an issue. Smoke control systems and damper control systems generally have an inherent fault in the fact that whilst they’re an active system they don’t do anything until they receive and alarm, so they’re sitting there and you won’t know if anything’s wrong unless you’ve been and tested it. Or maybe within the software there is a self-test regime, every Tuesday morning at 10am it just opens and closes everything individually. It’s so easy to do and relatively speaking in the cost of a building it’s not expensive, but it’s just a situation that we find ourselves in.

GEORGE So, that could be one of the hows. How do we check on a regular basis that the collective systems are working in concert?


GEORGE Paul, Will Perkins has said that he might not be able to come. Do you know anybody else that does AOVs that might be a candidate/.

PAUL WHITE I know candidates, but I’m not sure they could do it like Will could do it. I can sit in on that one if you want me to.

GEORGE OK, yeah, I need someone to coordinate that and Will is quite good at that.

PAUL WHITE I’m happy to act as a coordinator and at this stage there isn’t anybody else that can come in and understands what we’re doing.



Paul White

How do we ensure that products are designed for in the compartmentation design and then installed correctly?

Jarek Wityk

  1. How do we prevent incorrect design, selection, and installation of fire safety products?
  2. How do we ensure continuity and relationship of asset safety information throughout asset lifetime?
  3. How do we ensure that the Building Safety data is live – not a outdated snapshot in time?
  4. How do we ensure that the incomplete Building Services Design does not impact Construction?
  5. How do we ensure accountability?