BIM4Housing Compartmentation Round Table 03-09-2021

Introduction by GEORGE So the objective of this is to be able to provide information to the responsible people, the building safety managers and the accountable people with something that is consumable and succinct, that gives them the information they need to do certain things. So the reason we've designed the questions the way we have (and that's not to say that that there couldn't be better because they, I'm sure they could) is really to sort of frame the information in a way that then people can say, well, okay, what risks am I likely to be encountering? And then what information about the asset types that are protecting against those risks do we need.

One of the things that has come out from people commenting quite rightly is when we’ve produced the outputs there's repetition between some of the questions because information about perhaps what information you need about an AOV might also be repeated when you write down what instructions, what tasks need to be carried out. But that's fine, and the reason for that is that nobody is really going to be reading this document as being their way of consuming the information. What we're doing with this, the document is if you like a master report and what were then doing with the BRE is breaking them up into a series of elements that can then be provided to people that are actually carrying out that task. So the bit on competency, for example, you'll be able to look at competency in isolation to the rest of the document. So that's really where we're coming from.

As we go on to the first question, which is risks, we’re also doing this with other members of the Golden Thread Initiative team who are working with Uniclass to start to try and classify the risks so that they become more easily integrated into the design and construction process. So the things that you're answering questions on, the risk of maybe fire spreading or smoke spreading etc., that will hopefully go in underneath one of the new Uniclass definitions that's coming under, probably under the projects table, that’s our project management table. And the principle idea of that is if we can then have a risk we can then tie that back to the asset types that are protecting against that risk and then the information about those asset types that we need and then finally what do we need to do to that asset type to keep it safe.

RICHARD Question 1, has anybody got anything to add to the list?

JOANNA Does anybody see the words life safety in there anywhere? It’s just a terminology, a category of assets that we use when we are managing assets. Life safety, property protection. What risks do they mitigate? Well, life safety.

GEORGE Very briefly, Abigail, We’re tasked with providing the information that a building safety manager might need to keep the building safe and what we've done, we've broken it down into a number of different sections that the health and safety executive have sort of prompted us to what are the risks, what information, what asset types are supporting or preventing that risk. And then what information do we need about them and then how do we then make sure that they are installed and maintained properly and then what competency are the people needed and then how do we manage change. So those are the five or so topics and what everybody's done is, is they've contributed their knowledge and experience into what is a shared document here which we’re now going through.

RICHARD Alistair’s contribution, did that cover all three aspects? Oh, it’s primarily for fire dampers.

ALISTAIR I also did a section on fast open because you commented yesterday that there didn't appear to be much input in terms of fire dampers. I added that in yesterday, but my initial response was primarily to do with fire stopping.

GEORGE What we do going forward is, what we really want quite clearly is these are the specific risks that this particular asset is protecting against. So if we can break out what the risk is and then in the second question, the information you need about the asset, that's the way we're trying to structure it. But we'll try and interpret that from what we’ve…RICHARD absolutely not. My point was if there are three parts to the asset and Alistair has answered thoroughly two of them, then we need to look at the third one. GEORGE Yeah, Joe Silia, who’s on the call, I think probably he’s on the compartmentation side of things.

ALISTAIR All of this, the whole subject, is linked to compartmentation. You can't actually separate compartmentation out from fire stopping and fire dampers for example. They are intrinsically linked because compartmentation is like your universe. If you think it was a Venn diagram, within that universe, you then have compartmentation by compartmentation or structural elements or building elements and in another circle which is fire stopping. And then you have another circle which is a fire dampers. Compartmentation is your starter for 10, fire stopping and your fire dampers are the method to complain. It’s to maintain your compartmentation.

14 mins 45 secs As Alistair has quite rightly said the fire stopping is there to deal with any penetrations through the compartmentation. So the compartmentation itself will only be tested in perforate. There are no holes in any…RICHARD Right, I have to say when I first read this, this is what I thought. Compartmentation is not a product. The other two are products. So really, we’ve actually framed the question wrong.

ALISTAIR Compartmentation comprises of three products. it comprises of the building element, whether that’s a partition wall, block wall or concrete floor or a timber floor. Then you have your service penetrations and the fire stopping it goes round it and also your fire dampers. So and so, yeah, Chris is right: compartmentation is a strategy, it's not a product. There are products which form the compartment.

GEORGE It’s my fault, I wrote the question. I do appreciate compartmentation is a strategy and it's an outcome, as it were. What I was hoping to do was to incorporate, for example, what Joe would be bringing to the table, which would be the dry lining, which I believe as long as it's been done properly forms part of the compartmentation. We've already done fire doors. But what I was hoping that we'd have in the conversation today, which we've just been having which is great, any elements that are forming that compartmentation.

RICHARD George, are you saying you want to pull out other elements other than the two that we've identified for compartmentation? On this question, you want to pull out other elements as well?  GEORGE Drywall.

AUDREY Yes, compartmentation can be said to be a strategy. It's also a concept. So it has to be set in right from the beginning as to what is going to form the compartmentation or compartmentalisation, and is the building arrangement, is the arrangement of a particular section of the building. I’s easier if it is a box section, it could be trapezoidal, cylindrical, or spherical, it could be anything. But it is what totally separates that particular section of the building from the next and so if there are any services that goes through from one section of the building say A to another compartment B we have to ensure that the compartmentalisation is complete and is accurate by the use of fire doors, fire dampers, fire stopping when we penetrate the wall etc.

It also has to include the makeup of the wall, so you can't achieve compartmentalisation if you just have a simple start wall without the necessary insulation and the necessary dry lining layers on either side to provide the particular requirement for that section of wall. So the compartmentalisation is a concept and this is driven through by a strategy as to how this compartmentalisation is going to be achieved. So when you go to knowledge we have to have somebody on their team who's experienced enough to understand the the way the wall or the ceiling or the floor is arranged, who has to understand that I'm achieving compartmentalisation.

RICHARD So we’re saying that compartmentalisation is a strategy or whatever, but what it’s not is an asset type. We have asset types, two of which are mentioned in the question, plus fire doors, all of which go into compartmentalisation. That being the case, that being the case the subject that we're talking about is actually framed incorrectly. Therefore we shouldn't be talking about compartmentalisation before we define which asset types we're going to talk about. Or are we going to say we are just going to talk about the two asset types mentioned in the question, park compartmentalisation, because that's an overarching term. Are we just going to say we'll focus on those two asset types, we've already done fire doors, that's what I'm thinking.

AUDREY No, from my POV the question is framed OK because fire dampers, fire stopping are two of the most critical items that many people do not understand. So it's worth looking at…RICHARD i’m not saying don’t look at them, i’m saying we need to frame what we’re looking at. if we’re talking about compartmentalisation there should be other things as well. AUDREY Yes, I get you, but that that can be caught under the umbrella of the general arrangement of the compartmentalisation of the compartmentalised area, it’s the general arrangement of it. When I say it's a concept it’s decided at the design stage, we want to have four or five compartmentalisation areas and we're gonna break it in by having safety corridors. Once you say a safety corridor then you know that you have to have fire doors in between.

GEORGE I just don’t want us to lose that dry lining, in this particular context, is an asset. So therefore I want to ensure that the dry lining and any other asset type that forms part of the compartment is covered. RICHARD Then, let’s define those now. AUDREY You can say the general arrangement of the wall and that captures everything. General arrangement is also for plans as well as sections. So in this case, George, we're talking about the dry lining.

IAN Just to add to the asset types. We’ve not got any reference so far to both fire curtains and fire shutters that are quite common as parts of the system that will create or maintain a compartment. RICHARD Do they need to go into this discussion or do they go into another meeting? GEORGE It's a tough one really, I I think we we probably shouldn't discuss them now because we don't have enough time. RICHARD So, we'll just stick to the two that we've got on the basis that we appreciate this is not compartmentalisation, These are two asset types that contribute to it.

GEORGE Yeah, I do want the information on the drywall the dry lining and the other elements that go in as well. So I'm not quite sure how we collect that. I think possibly what we do, if Joe was willing to act as the champion on dry lining and maybe Ian could coordinate the fire curtains and the things that he's just mentioned and we've already got the fire collars covered very well by Alistair. So I think we could perhaps do that in a coordinated way offline and then maybe come together again to talk about how all of these elements will actually contribute towards compartmentation. Because the big thing that's different about this, Richard, is that you might get your fire stopping right, you might have your fire dampers right, but unless they're actually interrelating with other elements properly, then the compartmentation fails.

RICHARD Absolutely, I fully appreciate that what I'm trying to do. What I'm trying to do is define this meeting so that we know what we're doing for this meeting. So what we're saying for this meeting is the additional elements we're going to do offline. So we're just going to stick to the two, ignore compartmentalisation, we’re going to stick to the two defined asset types. Everybody's happy with that. That being the case, let's get back to question one, is there anything anyone can say that we've got written down for question one that is glaringly missing? No.

Moving down to Question 1b: What are the risks to fire stopping and dampers themselves - what risks are they themselves susceptible to?

AUDREY I can't see whatever is there. But one thing that the fire dampers are at risk of is of cost cutting. If it is there, I don't mean changes, this is different from changes in the projects. I mean cost cutting from the client. Because if one wants to achieve compartmentalisation at every time an HVAC vent goes through a compartmentalisation wall, one needs a fire damper and oftentimes their clients will take that off. That is a very big risk. if the clients understand the need for the fire dampers and then he may say OK, but they’re very expensive pieces of kit and so many times their clients think that this is a one-off issue that will never happen and of course it does happen.

JOANNA I’ve just added it into the chat. So it’s about somebody using the wrong rating. So the strategy is for a 30 minute wall, 30 minute protection, but actually around here 2 hours and they only used 30 minutes.

JOE I'm just gonna send you a link. So the document that I think you're talking about, the ASFP document is a joint document that we produced last year about fire stopping of service penetrations. I think that should be cited in this guide somewhere. It gives guidance right from the very early stages, looking at responsibilities. Looking at the structure itself, it could be a floor that somebody stands on, it could be any of those things.

So it runs through that and also starts to look at evidence that you need to pull together to ensure that it's not just a product that says half hour fire rated, but it's half hour fire rated for that situation with that penetration. It's a very complex subject and I think have a look at the guidance itself. It was produced with BESA (Building Engineering Services Association), with ourselves, with GDPA who are the trade body for dry lining. It’s freely available, has been peer reviewed and has a lovely foreword by Dame Judith.

GEORGE The important thing, Joe, just so you understand the format of what we're trying to achieve here, neither Richard nor I have got the expertise to be able to interpret those documents. So what we're hoping is that the round table groups are able to use their knowledge and expertise to draw out from those documents the vital information that a building safety manager needs just to do that particular task. So what we're doing is sign posting the right documentation, but what we also need from our group is really to be able to distil that down into a real summary that we can use, which I appreciate is not easy. Not all building safety managers are going to be an expert in all the different asset types. So that’s what we’re trying to do.

JOE So that perhaps is the other area where I can start to contribute when we get to that point about looking at competence and what it means to the functions around this. The functions involved in specifying or installing or supervising or maintaining, they're different functions. So that's a separate piece of work. When that time's right, Richard…

GEORGE I'd like to just say this is the section where we often get war stories. So if there's any things that you can think of where you've got somebody that is, something that you've come across and some experience, this where we'd like to try and get that, because it's the best way for people to learn.

RICHARD We’re launching something over the next week or two called the Bim4housing black box and a section of that is very much about war stories. So watch out for it because we want those war stories.

Question 2: What information do you need about fire stopping and dampers to ensure they perform as required?

GEORGE What we actually want to do, we want these as something that we can then have as machine readable information. So to be able to, on here for example the information about the acoustics, that’s great. The paintability is an interesting one as well. So being able to identify what those elements are, what that information is. What we’ll then do is then transpose that into something, using probably the whatever the European standards are, to say how do we measure acoustic performance, because that that's part of declaration of performance I think. So we can then relate that and Will has given quite a lot of background on essential characteristics and things like that.

ALISTAIR These attributes, this information can actually easily be found if a product is CE marked and it carries an ETA. This type of information on acoustics, air tightness can actually be found in the ETAs, so they are actually in one location.

GEORGE Yeah, it’s a document, isn’t it? I spent some time with the BRE going through the cavity barrier ETA, it’s got some great information in it. But interpreting that back into something to say, if I'm a maintenance manager what do I need to buy to replace that particular product, it’s relatively complex.

ALISTAIR As someone had mentioned before, this can be a complex subject and going forward in the brave new world It's going to be all about people’s competence. I think if it's a case of if you can't step up to the hockey, then maybe you need to find another sport to play.

GEORGE Well, I understand that position, but if we've got people that are maybe maintaining something and something breaks and it needs replacing I would have thought that the operating and maintenance information that has the information about what that product was and how it was performing, wouldn’t have thought that you should need to have to go back to the design and testing standards.

ALISTAIR Absolutely. If the O&M manual does what it's supposed to do and is completed then that’s the whole purpose of it and that makes it easy for the guy. But the other thing you need to remember is that things move on. You no longer can buy a Marathon bar, you’ve got to and buy a Snickers.

RICHARD The whole point about our outputs, Alistair, is that they’re never finished. Each of these outputs will be loaded up onto the website for ongoing comments, additions, peer reviewed on an ongoing basis. It’s a dynamic thing. So, believe me, we fully appreciate that it's going to be ongoing. It’s just a question, obviously when you've got something that is highly specialised and there are people who may have to use that highly specialised information who aren't highly specialist in that area but maybe specialised in an overarching area and I think that’s what it comes down to.

CHRIS I'm kind of going to agree with Alistair, but maybe suggest a possible remedy. It is a complex subject and trying to synthesise everything that you need to know into a relatively discreet list is always gonna be a challenge. However, to overcome that, what we've done in our business is we've gone down the route of digital object identifiers (that I've spoken to George about before) whereby we’re QR coding all of our products. If you scan the QR code it takes you to a separate website hosted by, in this case BSI, that's there in perpetuity. It never moves, it never changes, you never get out of 404 and that will tell you everything that you need to know about that product, even if you don't need to know it.

But it's kind of like if you went to get some maintenance on your washing machine, often it will say ‘refer to manufacturer’ and I think in some instances with some of these assets that’s gonna be a requirement as well. We can't put everything in that's needed in a discrete list and at some stage you have to go back to looking at the manual. I’m slightly sceptical that we would ever get a building asset manager that would understand the complexities of compartmentation. I think that's too much of an ask in terms of competency.

GEORGE Yeah, I guess what I would say though, Chris, is that if something's been installed and the information about that is on the site digital identified data then somebody has determined what that information is and therefore if we can get that information in that form (presumably it’s the necessary property set that’s needed) then that’s what we want to be able to make available. Because the digital identifier, I absolutely agree it's a really important element, but that shouldn't be the only way that people…

CHRIS Absolutely not. But the reality is you're talking about someone looking at an asset in years to come when we've all retired or doing something entirely different and within the auspices of the asset data management system, you can put so much information. Would it be sensible to repeat every single item on the CE marking requirements? be they normative or informative, it would probably be too much. So you basically select the vital things that you need to know about that asset, and if you want to go any deeper then the DROs are more useful in that respect.

GEORGE Yes, I agree. What I've discovered just as a layperson looking at declarations of performance and the ETAS is that they've got some fantastic information but they're often about how the product was tested. Whereas what we…how it would perform under these conditions etc, which is obviously really important. But what I want to know as an asset manager is how THAT door that's on flat 101, how that should perform.  That’s really ultimately what the Golden Key is about because we need to look at how each individual asset performs and also how a type of asset is going to perform or a model is going to perform. Because when something is actually installed, it's installed in a context with other assets. So it's not being looked at in isolation, is it?

ALISTAIR No, actually what you're actually talking about is fire engineering. So if that's the level of information you want you're going to have to employ a fire engineer to come out and look at that that door at flat 1A and actually then write you an engineering judgement report or an assessment, which you will then have to fork out for every time you want that.

CHRIS George, I think it would be flawed thinking if we think that if we can bundle all of the asset information together, that would allow an asset manager to be competent enough to make a decision about an entire construction. Bear in mind compartmentation is a strategy, not a product. I think that's a step too far, personally.

GEORGE Sorry, you misunderstanding I think what I'm what I'm saying, I apologise. We've got two asset managers on the call at the moment and I may be completely wrong here and I'm very happy to be corrected. I'm not suggesting that we're talking about a design change to the fire strategy. What I'm saying is that the fire strategy is already set, the compartmentation has already been established, the products and materials have already been established and the building is built and is operating. At a particular point in time, a door closer fails or somebody damages a fire door and that fire door needs replacing. All I’m saying is that I would want the information about that door set and also it's component elements so that the maintenance people can actually replace it with an equivalent product.

ALISTAIR You could replace it with an equivalent product, but it would need to be replaced and installed in accordance with how the door was actually tested. So if the test if the test report or the testing on the door has a certain number of parameters, for example, the door has to be installed with a certain gap between the frame and the substrate.

So if the test report or the testing on the door has a certain number of parameters, for example, the door has to be installed with a certain gap between the frame and the substrate and that gap then has to be sealed with a prescribed fire stop sealant and if the door has been tested with prescribed furniture, then that's what needs to be installed. If you then go out with that most tested, that's when you need to go down the road of an assessment and an appraisal to have that change done. But in all aspects of Fire Protection you have to install to what was actually tested.

I'm not an expert on fire doors, but as I understand it, yes, you can make certain there is a certain flexibility in terms of changes to the furniture and certain other minor changes you can make to a fire door, but essentially the core of the installation has to be within the scope of the test because at the end of the day, like everything in construction, it's all about achieving the highest probability that you can. Like everything in construction, there are no guarantees, there are no guarantees of performance, it’s all about probability, and what you're trying to achieve is the highest probability of performance.

GEORGE I’ll send you (and everybody) the one we’ve already done on fire doors, in fact we’ve got it up on the website.

SHARON To add on to Alistair's point. So going back to I've been sort of building manager competence regarding elements that need to be changed. I think that the difficulty is a door is primarily something quite tangible that everyone understands the concept of. I don't think that can be put in the same bracket or the same basket as damaged fire stopping because there's not the same knowledge and competence. So my fear would be that the asset, you've got general terms like tripping up in a carpet that’s general awareness. But the minute you go above a ceiling or start looking at a stud partition wall, the minute you start looking at double sheeted different various colours of sheeting and all the other elements of fire stopping and all the other products that we're talking about here.

The Compartmentation and the actual building fabric can't really be lumped in against with general terms like doors because you know that that's just something that people are aware of. That would be my concern that we need to separate out when a specialist contractor does need to be called in to do a repair versus someone who could be competent to change a door, a hinge, or to change ironmongery generally. But where's that the line that you don't cross because you don't want to start involving an engineer, you don't want to start looking at fire strategy.

RICHARD Moving down to question 3. We’ve actually changed question 3, but not on screen. The reason being that this is what we sent out to you, so we've kept it the same. But in much the same way with the compartmentation, method statements and procedures are things that contain tasks. So we're going to ask you to ignore method statements and procedures and we're just talking about the tasks - we want the tasks that make up those.

GEORGE This actually relates to what Sharon was saying. Please understand that we are not in anyway suggesting that any work that's carried out on anything should be done by anybody other than a competent person. We're not suggesting in any way that should be undermined. What we're trying to do is to provide the building safety manager or the person that's actually procuring the service of a competent installer to have some knowledge about what they should be doing. Now, that's not because they're trying to do it, but as the person that is legally and possibly criminally responsible, they ought to have at least some sort of understanding of what that particular function needs to cover.

The other thing I would say is that it's been coming increasingly clear that even competent people can make mistakes. Therefore having a checklist or a series of tasks that are, for example, the installation or inspection of a fire damper. We’ve got SFG 20 for example. It might be that that is adequate for doing maintenance of fire dampers but maybe there's a procedure that a fire damper installation expert would say this is the methodology, these are the tasks that a competent person would be carrying out, and that's what we're trying to distil into this really, to be able to come up with a list of tasks that then make sure that something can be properly installed, commissioned, inspected and maintained.

JOE Referring to the 9 golden rules. It comes straight out of the guide that we produced. We aligned the RIBA stages of work and produced 9 golden rules, a summary of what should happen at each stage during the design, selection and installation of fire stopping.

JOANNA HARRIS The thing in maintenance is that we will only follow (if we don't know, if we're not competent), we'll only follow what the manufacturer's guidance tells us or when we go and use products like SFG 20. So if the instructions in an SFG20 are not meeting our needs, which I would suggest they probably don’t, then we’d be struggling.

GEORGE to Ian. Shall I just rephrase the question. What we're on at the moment is question 3, which is really looking at what are the tasks that we might be able to define that a competent person would be expected to carry out either to do an installation of any of these asset types, a commissioning, maintenance or whatever.

IAN My view on that tends to be that those who are involved in the maintenance or the management should receive adequate manufacturers training because that then brings it back to the manufacturer ought to be sharing all the relevant information so things won't get lost by way of Chinese whispers.

GEORGE Alistair, you’ve a manufacturer of fire stopping. So presumably you do such training…for the list of products you provide, presumably you’ve got a list of tasks that you’d expect somebody to carry out.

ALISTAIR Well, the products come supplied with installation instructions, which primarily are more in pictograph form. And that's both to cover those who may be literarily challenged, but also to cover the different languages…you get a visual representation of all the installation. We also provide product training when requested, so if an installer wishes some instruction on that can be provided.

It’s generally designed not to be maintained because most people want to install it and forget about it. That then raises the question of, right, how long can you leave fire stopping in pace which then develops into a wider question on the longevity and durability of any construction product. The issue with that is there is no test standard for this, so whilst the building regulations talk about fitness of purpose and the use of durable products, it gives no guidance as to how that durability is to be determined. We ourselves have carried out a certain kind of a certain level of durability testing?

However, it's not a test standard so legally we cannot make any claims about it, but it can be used to demonstrate the robustness of the fire stopping products. Basically it's a series of free store cycling followed by fire testing, and it's based on a German standard for concrete. The idea is people expect to put the fire stop in and leave it there for decades. Its only real replacement is needed is if it's involved in a fire or has been damaged by environmental conditions. A fire stop more often it will be replaced because services are replaced during their lifetime. Cables, pipes are added or replaced during the building’s life cycle.

CHRIS We often get requests for, 60 years seems to be the buzzword at the moment, to say your product is going to last 60 years. We then have to take tests that we know of and probably accelerate the cycles and test the product after we've done the free store to the various fire testing. But I think going forward now from a manufacturer's POV it’s important that they supply installation instructions and that they at least offer the opportunity for product training and also we produce maintenance notes which basically are quite simple. It's not so much maintenance, it's what to do if it's damaged, because basically the products, the word passive is meant to be that, it's passive and you can inspect it and in theory, as long as you don't disturb it, it will do its life for however long you want it to be.

My only concern in this regard is that you have lots of people, lots of companies going along and getting third party certification for installation from 5 Pass, LPCB, IFC and then consumers assuming that that makes them competent to install any method or any type of fire stopping or cavity barrier or damper. When I think you need two things, you need that general overall understanding of the topic and the subject, but you also need to talk to the manufacturer for him to show you what are the nuances of his particular installation.

Because if you look at the digital information that's supposed to be supplied under the draught standard for the Golden Thread BS8 644, you have to testify or confirm that the product has been installed in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions. You can't do that if the product if the product manufacturer hasn’t told you how to do it.

AUDREY Following on from what Sharon was saying, I looked at SFG 20 and I looked for fire dampers. It's taken me quite a while and to find it there on on the SFG 20. So if I were a building manager who didn't have my background or experience then I'm afraid they wouldn't go looking for it. And if the building manager doesn't know where that building element is supposed to be they will never find it. They will never see a fire damper. Except they went to look for it and the SFG 20 inducting.

I've gone through so many places where I thought it should be before I found it, so if I didn't have my my background or my information as a building manager how would I ever know that that's where it's it's it's at. So I strongly defend everyone who's been saying that there needs to be some experience and some competency. Because we can't now look at housing and think that it's OK, or rather we've got to treat it as a critical industry now. People are losing their lives because of things which could have been handled.

RICHARD Maybe it's not just about expertise and competence. Maybe it's just about that the information isn't so blooming hard to find. Maybe you shouldn't have to be that level of an expert to get an answer to a question or to find the information.

AUDREY Fire dampers, for example, they're expensive pieces of kit if you compare to other things like fire stopping or fire collars or something like that. So they are at risk of being written out because their client thinks that they're too expensive, we can do without them. And no one will ever find a fire damper in a typical building except the new way to look for it and if they look for it they will see that, look, it hasn't been fixed well, it hasn't been put into the ducting. It hasn't been put in where it should be, where the compartmentalisation is. There are so many things to understand about fire dampers, so many things to understand about fire collars, to know where they are and what they look like.

GEORGE Here’s a real experience yesterday. I spent an hour, I was working for a client who’s a Health Trust and I was dealing with the maintenance contractor, a large maintenance contractor that has got a 5 year contract to look after all their buildings. We were looking through the asset list that they were covering and the way that they were recording the information about fire stopping and fire dampers was that they got a single work instruction to address all of the fire dampers in that building. They weren’t actually relating to an individual fire damper or locating the fire dampers. I’ve explained to them I don’t think that’s safe, they should be able to particular…if there was 20 fire dampers that they had to inspect I think that they should be able to say which ones have been inspected and which ones have potentially failed.

What we need to do is make sure that, fire stopping are a classic example actually, if I could say get some input from you on there. Because often even good products like Bolster and the like, we end up with a drawing with dots on it and what we really need is for that information to be geolocated. Sharon, I think, is going to set up for us to meet with the Bolster people. We’ve taken on a university as a client and there are 9,000 fire stopping assets in that university and there’s no…in the data, there's drawings that you can look at and inspect them and then cross relate them, but in the asset data it’s all been done to full build BIM level 2, the asset data doesn't tell us where the fire stopping is which I don’t think is safe.

ALISTAIR i get your point on that. To put it in context, compared to possibly 10 years ago and the advent of things like Bolster and ? 1hr 09mins 54secs own document manager are at least a massive step forward and the next thing, yes, would be a geolocation aspect of these systems that would be ideal. As soon as you said this there was things going off in my head because we as a company invest a huge amount of money in research and development and our latest division is our robotics division and there are aspects of that which I’ve seen, let’s just say your wish possibly could be a desire in the future.

CHRIS Along with DOIs there are other strategies that can be employed that can tell you electronically where things are and you can position them. It's particularly useful in the fact that most passive Fire Protection products are hidden from sight. So you want to go and look, kind of like a water diviner, you can use certain gadgets that will tell you as long as they carry the correct chip to say where it is and when it was installed and all that other good stuff.

RICHARD It's quite extraordinary how often in these meetings one of the consistent threats that come through is location. The reason it keeps popping up is because nobody knows it. So we’re on question 4 and we’ll start with Sharon. George, do you want to do an intro first?

GEORGE No, as long as we're all agreed that competency is critical and it's a given that we want people to be trained by whatever the association is. But one of the things that we have actually also discovered is that it's not enough for them simply to be accredited by whatever that master organisation is because what we've discovered from the last sessions is that, for example Will's company who manufacture items, they will have an additional set of instructions over and above what the Smoke Control Federation people would do, so it's a combination of the two. One of the things that certainly Sharon has said in the past, there are so many different types of cavity barrier, for example, that you might be accredited and trained in one but you're not competent to…that’s something we found in the past as well.

SHARON Just generally always complaining that people are allowed to install products and my concern is even something as simple as a 3rd party certified contractor, it still doesn't mean it's apples and apples, there’s still a real concern. There's varying standards that the SFP had looked to speak to all the third party certified organisations, to see if they could agree some benchmark. But again, I think the problem is if you’ve already been paid to do something your way and everyone's accepting that as a standard, if someone comes along and says you need to up your game because someone's better than you, they would say, well I don't need to because I'm getting paid for what I'm doing just now. There's no regulatory enforcement of it, so it's very much.

RICHARD Don’t you think, Sharon, the trouble is as soon as there’s a benchmark the benchmark becomes the lowest common denominator because it tends to be aggregated across so many different organisations that it's possibly not actually high enough.

SHARON I agree with that, but I think the problem we have at the moment is there is no benchmark, so it's a free-for-all and you I think we've got to start somewhere. Everybody would agree there’s a speed limit for driving, it’s not a target, it's a limit. We don't have anything to work to with passive Fire Protection, it’s a fair game. I've had people contacting me from a university who have had a third party certified contractor, when they've had an independent certified body coming out to inspect the work the work's been condemned, it's been pulled out. I’ve tried to get the background of it but the problem is anyone who’s experienced a bad job, they end up just paying for it to be fixed because they don't want the bad PR of basically coming out and saying I'm never using this person again, I’m going to make sure that everyone knows that they worked here and they made a…

JOE Sharon, the starting point for competency in terms of the standard is the Flex that's being developed for the building safety manager. So they started off with a Flex called 8670, which I think has gone through its review process. They're currently writing 8673, which is for the building safety manager, and then they will write two others, one for the principal contractor and one for the principal designer, as part of the building safety bill. I'm chairing a group at the moment which sits under working Group 12, one of the competency working groups, looking at a baseline that can be used for competence in the use of of construction materials, construction products, so what level of competence is required. We’ve broken that down into 5 levels, and the 5 levels are broken down into skills, knowledge, experience and behaviour, so it reflects that in the Flex.

Its stages of development now are that the other 11 working groups will start to look at what we've developed with a view to how do they relate to their particular functions. And we've decided that this is based on functions rather than actors, because you can have several people in a process that are carrying out the specification work, but the three are completely different actors. By talking purely about the function we can start to break it down. We’ve highlighted the fact that competence is not just about the installers and I think that’s coming up in this and competence of people who are inspecting as well. So we're looking at competence from the marketing POV, if somebody's marketing a product inappropriately, leaving aside what the code for construction product information is, then they can’t be treated as being competent.

Nor the person who is actually selling it. And the person selling it could be on a trade counter and somebody comes in and says have you got any of this fire stuff, pulls out a tube of fire stuff without actually asking the question about what's it for what, what size and what's it going to be about. And the same thing happens with the person buying and the same thing with the person supervising, installing, maintaining all of those different functions. Richard, I'm happy to share that in a sort of a 10 minute presentation at some point when there's time to do that. But if you know Hannah Clark at the CPA, she’s driving this initiative forward.

GEORGE Joe, if we could do that, that might be something relevant to all of the groups. We might set up a separate session across the board. That would be really good.

SHARON The ASFP have looked at competency and the ? 1hr 19mins 56secs that you're referring to in the Flex and it's to try and ensure that manufacturers, designers, installers, all the members have got a criteria they've got to achieve with varying degrees of competency levels within the organisation. Because again, going back to benchmark, it doesn't matter if I've got an ASFP Level 3 or a degree or whatever if I'm not the person that supervising or don't put in the right policies and procedures for the people who are working below me and I'm not policing them. It doesn't matter if they've got an NVQ 2 or they're one of the five people with no qualifications who's been supervised.

So the SFP are looking at that table of competence to make sure the SFP members fall into that. And the whole purpose of being an ASFP member, being third party certified, an accredited installer for ? 1 hr 20mins 47secs etc. You’ve got this sort of belt and braces it's all optional and if we are putting a price on for a tender, it still comes down generally to price then quality. It’s optional to join the ASFP and whether to be 3rd party certified. I’m tying that into the document now.

WILL it’s really interesting to hear about the development of the 8670 Flex umbrella standard specifically for smoke control. As I mentioned in the text there we as an industry group developed the SDI 19 third Party accreditation scheme under underwritten by UCAS, but that is an organisations scheme, it's not an individual. Obviously to get this scheme you have to show training records of individual competencies within, but there is no formal competence scheme. So I'm actually very interested to hear what Joe was saying about the development of the individual competencies. So there is a momentum and a direction of travel from many, many industries and we're just going to keep it going, so.

Going back to the example of the Smoke Control Association, we know Hackitt’s raised the bar so we went out and created the scheme and will do the same for the individual competence, but what’s good about the 8670 series, it’s not narrow in it’s development of skills related to product. It’s the approach, a much wider remit of…the word escapes me JOE Behaviours and attitudes.

GEORGE When we were putting together the target information for the building from the BIM for Housing Associations data group the asset types were defined that we had to look at. And when I showed them to Chris he asked me, quite sensibly, why isn't cavity barriers on there? And the reason was that people don't consider cavity barriers to be a maintainable item and therefore it doesn’t go on the list.

Now we've obviously changed that and we've also looked at that from a point of view of where a wall is acting as a fire compartment then that itself should be considered to be an asset because it does need to be maintained. Well maybe not maintained, but we need to know where it is, that's the important thing from an asset management perspective. And therefore I just wanted to just get a sanity check from the people that are on this call that things like fire stopping, is that something that you would consider to be an asset.

ALISTAIR Absolutely. An asset is something of value. And the value of fire stopping is…RICHARD It depends how you define maintain, doesn't it? I mean, if something gets damaged and you need to repair it, that's maintenance. ALISTAIR But maintenance is also inspection. Inspection is the initial part of maintenance, so you inspect and if it's not damaged, then you don't need to actually repair or replace it. But that's still maintenance because you're still initiating a process of maintenance. I'm trying to think of a better way to put this, but you know, I'll just be brutal with it. If people were doing their jobs properly, then all fire assets are maintained at least once a year during the annual, the minimum annual fire risk assessment which includes not just the fire doors and extinguishers and things like that, it includes all structural components including fire stop, fire doors and all other components that contribute towards

RICHARD Well, if you have to monitor its condition, surely that’s…ALISTAIR Well, the things is we all know that from our own experience of of having houses, things can happen. on invisibly or behind the scenes and it's not until we actually have a maybe a catastrophic failure of some kind that we then know there's been a problem. Say for example, you've had a leak in your roof which has been going on for three or four years and then next thing your garage ceiling comes down, you think, what the heck was that? And then you suddenly realise the timbers have all rotted away because there's been a hidden leak for years. That’s an extreme example, but that's the whole purpose certainly of at least inspection is to just check that thing, it’s basically trying to catch things before they reach a catastrophic level.

GEORGE Can I just frame this in the context of BIM because this is a really important point. What we're saying is that passive fire protection elements, and I love firewall, I’ve not come across that before, Joe. I think that's a really clear way of defining something. Is that a commonly used term? AUDREY It is, yes, for me it is. JOE I’m glad to hear that, Audrey, it’s a word we don’t think is being used enough. GEORGE it’s going to be used a lot now. The challenge we’ve got now is the way CAD systems are set up and the way COBie is defined, things like fire stopping and generally firewalls etc would not be exported from the model, in fact they probably wouldn't be modelled at all.

ALISTAIR Sorry to disagree with you, but they are. We actually have a BIM model for fire stopping. GEORGE Alistair, I'm involved in hundreds of BIM projects where the models are being created by architects and M&E engineers, and I can count on the fingers of one hand where they've actually identified the fire stopping in the model.

ALISTAIR I've also seen the converse. I was involved with a tower block in Gothenburg in Sweden, 72 storeys, and they even BIM modelled the fire stopping right down to the electric sockets. It’s a question of choice and it's a question of how detailed you want to be. It's like just simple CAD, you can be as detailed as you want. It’s more to do with will and then, secondly, the knowledge. So you can model your BIM model right down to the screws that are holding the face plates on, it's how much it's what level you actually want to go to.

RICHARD Question 5: how changes from one product to another are recorded. So has anyone got anything that they think is glaringly obviously missing from that?

GEORGE I’d just like to say that what we actually want to do. I was talking to Chris’ boss last night, he sees the Golden Thread as really being about preventing or putting far more scrutiny over one product being swapped out for another. And I absolutely agree that that's a really important part of the Golden Thread. Therefore from my perspective what we need is a robust change management process whereby you start with the product that has been determined at the outset before it goes into value engineering, and let's not start to discuss whether Value Engineering's a good thing or not, cause I certainly don't think it is, but it’s the way the world is.

Therefore, I think it is important for us to have explicitly defined what the product was that was being originally specified or recommended, so that we've then got a baseline against which the new product gets replaced. The reason I'm saying that is that all too often, particularly in residential, the architect or M&E engineer isn't paid to go to that level of detail at stage three before it goes into contract. It’s during stage four when people are under a pre-construction service agreement, that something then gets worked up in more detail to become what is actually going to be selected in terms of products. And my view is that what we need to do is have a very rigorous process whereby the both the performance specification and the product that was chosen that could satisfy that performance specification is then held in a machine readable form.

And then when the replacement product, if there is a replacement product comes on, we need to be able to automatically compare those two things so that you've got then a rigorous process. Again, that was something, Chris, that Adam was keen on when we were speaking last night. Now what that means is product manufacturers have got to describe their essential information in a standardised way. If we can get that, that's going off into all sorts of benefits.

CHRIS Is that, George, not one of the intended outcomes from the Lexicon project, that manufacturers call things the same. Everybody has a common understanding of what product A is or product B is. I'm speaking here with years of experience. You have the ubiquitous products X or equal approved and I believe the OR equal approved was put in for competition law So that you're not providing, you're giving people options and choice. So I think would you advocate that this approach would be just for life critical products or for all construction products?

GEORGE I think the change management process, I can’t see why it shouldn’t be for all products, it’s not just about life critical because if the building opens and then it leaks, for example, that has a massive operational impact.

CHRIS I suppose really for that process it depends on what the strategy is and who’s signing off on the changes. I think what we could possibly work on is levels of authority to change things. Because the worst thing you could do is have a situation where you have a construction site that's almost put into some kind of inertia because you have procedures in place that don't allow it to be, that the kind of basically stifle progress.

AUDREY As soon as that comes in, then you are back to where the architect or the designer etc is stifled right from the beginning. Because in the large scale housing projects it's quite rare now to find an architect in charge of the design. More common is the design and build element where the architect is just one of the client’s teams and he's not really in charge of technical things. If he or she tries very hard to push it through then that is an exception rather than the rule. And as architects we've been fighting against this all the time. So that's one point that the specification on on a purely technical basis has been greatly reduced and it's worth trying to push it forward again.

I'm not saying to take away the design and build form of procurement, if that's what is economical. But at least within that there should be a drive for specification along purely technical lines and not per cost. Because once you take that out or once that is reduced then you can get any project manager, who doesn't know anything about building, say that, well, this is too expensive, we can have something similar. He doesn't look at the British standard, he doesn't look at the European norms or anything like that because the person wouldn't know why they're important. So I think within all this there should be a driving for competence also to be a drive for technical ability and specification coming through it is important.

Also the other discussion we're having about which item should be handled under change control, any item that’s being procured should go under a change management, so long as it's going to be procured to a certain standard and quality. If it changes, it has to be subject to change control. I do accept also that there could be levels of of of change control. Frankly now, I can't actually tell what in a building should be handled by somebody fairly junior, because if you're looking at compartmentalisation and the person has changed rock wool for any other insulation which catches fire, then it becomes a big problem. I think that technical competence in specification should be driven in all of this, it is important.

GEORGE My view would be that if we can one way of addressing part of this is having standardised data that makes that more transparent.

CHRIS It would be useful, and that goes back to the maybe the Lexicon project, George, where if someone says this is this product, everybody has a common understanding of what they actually mean. So you and I, we spent hours debating when does a cavity barrier become fire stopping and when does fire stopping become a cavity barrier and it’s having a shared understanding of that that's vital. And that's the first step to being able to make a simplistic almost heuristic calculation: is this product the same as what I'm looking at, or am I looking an apple and a pear?

GEORGE To use a technical term, there’s a property set or group of properties that you could relate to a fire door, a firewall, a cavity barrier. So in other words, they're all different products, but they're all performing that element of the same function. But they’re also performing maybe a function of security and also performing a function of maybe acoustic performance etc. Yeah, absolutely that there's more to it, the product. What we've been able to do with the Lexicon toolkit, probably more the Templater, is that we can create those as discrete property sets which can then be applied to all of the elements that carry that particular functional requirement, that would work quite well, Joe, I'm thinking that's a good way of doing it.

JOE It all comes down to test evidence, exactly as you say. Two products may look similar in a number of ways, they may even have similar descriptors, but unless you've actually got that test evidence, where you can drill down and find out how it performs in that situation. And it could be the size of the opening, it could be about the opening itself, is it lined, is it unlined. All of those attributes need to be checked before a product can be substituted and ultimately it is equal and approved. There's a lovely term in contracting about similar or approved, which there's no basis in fact at all. It is equal and approved, but the approval has to be by the person who's written that specification.

AUDREY Yes, the term is equal approved. Right from the beginning it was always equal approved, that’s how we were taught and that’s what it should be.

Joe answers Sharon’s question in the chat: yes. Chris says she should check her PI insurance.

SHARON But the reason we're asking us because we’ve an issue where an architect has specified a product, has given us a marked-up drawing, specified how we've installed the product and the only thing that was missing from the information that we were given was the thickness of the board that we were to use. So obviously we have to do the calculations, then we picked the board and they’ve now said that we’ve designed it.

CHRIS Absolutely, and we have to do that. We’re a product manufacturer with PI cover, we’re not designers, but we find ourselves being almost sucked into being designers because everyone's looking to defray liability, particularly when it comes to matters to do with fire. Nobody wants to say anything about anything, they want to push their liability further down the line. So the better quality data we have in what products are supposed to do and give us confidence in being able to substitute them in some respects is a good thing because it reduced the need for Sharon and businesses like Hilty and Siderise to have to make value judgments and basically design decisions that we're accepting some liability for but not being paid for.

GEORGE What you've just said there, Sharon, and the answer that Joe's given is absolutely stunning, it’s so important. I’m saying that because the example that you’ve give there, Sharon, it’s because information that quite frankly, I would have thought the architect should have provided. Because they've not provided it they’ve left a vacuum into which somebody else needs to step. If it’s the case that it is reasonable, is it reasonable that we should expect an architect or somebody should have said what the thickness of that wall should be?

AUDREY Yes, definitely. I can’t see Sharon’s text, I’m trying to picture what she might have written. But yes, an architect should provide the thickness of the wall, because if the thickness of the wall (or whether it was dry lining or brick wall block hole, whatever it is) is not given, then there's no way that one can say that this is a 30 minutes wall, this is a one hour firewall, a four hour even fire wall, there’s no way that can be actually attested. So that the general arrangement of that wall, where there’s a stud partition wall with metal stud working and then insulation and 2 layers or 4 layers of dry lining on either side of it. Whatever it is, it should be given, it should be drawn out in a section and it should be specified and annotated.

I know we’re tackling the BIM later on, what’s happening is if it's a design and build contract and the architect has not been given the mandate then they will not be able because they're not financially remunerated, they will not be able to spend as much time on it. And this is something that's happening, so many gaps are coming up. We've almost become a victim of our own success and so gaps are opening up where no one is taking responsibility for ownership of things which were traditionally very…we’re all proud of specifying and annotating and everything, but now all of that has been taken away.

GEORGE I have a meeting at 3pm so regarding the BIM question that I do want us to have a chat on, what we might do is set up an hour some time to cover it. There's one point I would just like to leave you with, that is that there's absolutely no doubt that you can put as much detail into the BIM models as…you can't model things that aren't modelled but anyway. But what I'm finding, for example, the point that you've made Joe about the firewall, in the majority of cases the details of the walls are not actually in the model. You’ve typically got a generic wall element and then you’ll go to look at a finishing schedule often, for each of the rooms, that will tell you that information. And the schedule, even schedules of doors, aren't actually often in the model themselves, they are extracts from the model and then they're annotated so they're abstracts from the model.

Now, that's fine, other than when you're then trying to export the information and use it. Therefore what I think we need to do, I’ve got a major project on and I've got them to agree this week that the walls that are acting as fire compartments, they’ve agreed they’ll include them in the COBie exports, there’s nothing to stop them from doing that.

AUDREY it sounds like there are some short cuts being taken. With oil and gas we’ve sat down with Hilti several times and looked at exactly what's happening to our walls and so now we do draw them. We've always used BIM of sorts and in very great detail. But it seems to me that what's happening on the other projects, and we are talking about housing, and I keep on saying that it must be seen as a critical industry so therefore that's the driver. Once it's seen. a critical industry, the architects or their designers working on it will be compelled to act as we used to act and actually draw up the section and put it within the BIM model so that it can be customised of sorts. So there will be maybe four or five types of wall in that particular house, in that particular complex or even more.

And when you pull it up and you see the annotation and the section that is cut through, then you will see the makeup of the wall and the finishing schedule is actually only what it is, it’s superficial only. It shouldn't actually be carrying details of the wall within on the finishing schedule. And this is what's happening when I say there are several gaps opening up and until large scale housing is accepted as a critical industry, therefore meaning that more efforts should be put in, we should go back and bring in all the traditional technical team onto the project.

GEORGE If we’re in agreement I’m very happy to set up another session just focused at this because I think it's such an important area and after all we are BIM4housing.

I’m inspired by the contribution, I’ve learnt a huge amount. I think there's been a lot of cross filtering as well, hasn't there?

JOE Doesn’t it just show you in terms of competence and those levels of competence. So when I look at myself on these five levels of competence that we've developed, there are some areas that I can put myself down as an A on and there's other areas where I'm no more than an E. And so we are competent, but are we competent in those own particular sort of spheres and fields? Right at the beginning of this, somebody put in the chat that shouldn't the, and I can't remember the building safety manager, shouldn’t they be competent? Shouldn't they understand all of this?

And I think what we've explored in the last hour or so of this just on one little subject how complex it is. And the same thing could be true of any other element. Fixings, heating, externals, all of them have their own level of competence and that's why a building safety manager won’t have all of those answers. The key thing actually is sometimes not having the answers but is knowing the questions to ask.

RICHARD That’s it, it’s having enough knowledge that you can ask the right questions isn't it…..