RICHARD FREER: ‘We have 5 tables at DCW on Thursday 19th, for 45 minutes each, one for each of the working groups. The aim is to take a specific issue (in this case, smoke spread) and look at how to mitigate it, moving through specific scenarios: what could affect a fire door? What if the door is painted? What if there is a cat flap put in it? Etc. The idea is for each working group to have a pre-meeting to look at those issues and give is a steer for the meeting. Hopefully you’ve all had a chance to look at what we’ve got from the fire safety workstream. We don’t want to spend the first 20 minutes of the actual meeting going through it so we want a strong steer from you guys (operations) for the operations round table, so at the roundtable it's as if we’ve already started...we can quickly get into the nitty gritty rather than introductory stuff. This is a pre-meeting to be prepared...’.

ALEX OLDMAN asks Richard ‘what are we actually going to be outputting from the round table?’.

RICHARD: ‘We’re looking at the spread of smoke – initially in terms of fire doors, but also compartmentation. Fire walls, cavity barriers, fire dampers, fire and smoke detectors, alarm systems, smoke vents. We’ve sent through those documents so you have a chance to look at them beforehand (as there won’t be time in the meeting). The frst thing: What information does an operations team need to make sure that those assets all perform on the day? The second thing: in specific scenarios (e.g. painting a door, installing a new carpet which affects the fire door) what information do you need to know, and what training do the tenants perhaps need, to get round those scenarios and mitigate the risk? Then, we can go into the meeting on the 19th with that already established.’

‘The aim of the roundtable is twofold: to get some more people and also to engage and promulgate our risk-based approach to what we’re doing in Bim4housing.’

ALEX asks if the focus will be on an emergency event (there’s already been a fire somewhere, there is a source of smoke) or is it focused on the precursor to that?

RICHARD says that it’s both: ‘There are two phases: 1) looking at the documents we’ve sent through is there anything we’ve missed on there that you think the operations would need to know? Any additions to be made? Primarily (within these documents) look at the risk and the mitigation of risk re smoke.

ALEX ‘So, construction hands over to Operations, then Occupation, presumably certification information, and are we then going as far as emergency response?’

RICHARD : ‘yes, that’s the idea. We’ve got 2 phases: the first is pre-emergency, handover, everything covered in that document. But there is what George calls Game Simulations: what would happen? What would you need to have happened? What information would you need on-site readily available in an emergency situation? PAUL WHITE asks if it’s to be looked at from the person responsible for the building point of view? Or the fire brigade point of view?

RICHARD says they should look at it from an Operations point of view (as they are the Operations group).

LYSA NICELY says that from her ‘Operations’ perspective the certification and the ongoing test data are important (and also maintenance in general). She has to understand what equipment (for example, AOV) is in the building that would prevent the spread of smoke, and have the certification to back it up.

WILL PERKINS asks, re information, should it be discussed about where that information is available and how it’s going to be held? He says (in response to Lysa’s and Richard’s comments about AOVs) it’s about clarity of information further up the chain at design stage.

PATRICK FLYNN talks about the referencing of the assets within the block and their location from an Operations perspective. There’s an abundance of certification from his new build team. ‘But in relation to the change in legislation this year, how do I know that that door is the one that I need to attend? How do we reference our doors? This also extends to emergency lighting.’ Maybe they will repair the wrong lights instead of the ones reported to have gone out. This links back into how BIM data is used’.

ALEX says that a point that needs to be made at the roundtable regarding ‘this information’ is that it does not suffice to just send out a questionnaire and get a response back. Complex analysis is required. There’s a lot of technical stuff to understand.

PAUL WHITE says that regular checks of equipment should be taking place so that it’s ready to be used, therefore you should be expecting something to wrong with that equipment on the day of a fire.

CHRISTINE MILLING says that when looking at Operations you need to have considered the system. ‘it’s ideal if you are starting to use BIM and you can locate with all your items are because your systems will then say this group of these particular doors or these instances are all part of that system. But if you haven’t got that system in place, you know how you’re going to move to that point where you can see where that system has been impacted by something being swapped in or swapped out, or how it could be impacted.’

PATRICK FLYNN asks ‘are we looking just at new builds or are we also looking at occupied buildings that this can be retrospectively applied to? They have to be fundamentally different approaches. The challenges on the occupied property side is going to be far more than on the new build.’

AELX OLDMAN will be chairing the roundtable at DCW. He asks the group - what information do we need and what gaps do we have in the technical documents that have been produced so far? Has anybody read those in detail enough to have spotted anything that’s missing or any areas of discussion that we haven’t got?

PAUL WHITE: ‘(there are) fundamental issues: you’ve got passive fire protection which is compartmentation. The majority of fire doors will shut and stay shut and any day-to-day ventilation will shut and stay shut, the fans will stop. The active side is the sprinklers and smoke control. If there is fire in your flat you may well open the door of the flat, hopefully you’ll shut it when you leave to keep the fire in the flat. But often windows break and it may spread to the flat above. At that point you’ve allowed some smoke into the corridor and a smoke control system starts up. The stairwell should be free of smoke, people can get out and the fire brigade can get in. That may use things that open and may use some things that need to stay shut and you won’t know which those are until you know where the fire is, and that’s all dealt with by the alarm system. At the roundtable, how do you need to interact with those key things if there is an event?.’ He is struggling with dealing with this.

WILL PERKINS ‘isn’t the question what information needs to be put in place for the operations team the to ensure that product is ready to go in accordance with its design if there is an event?’

RICHARD FREER reiterates the point he made earlier, which is the purpose of this pre-meeting– what information do you need to supply? What information does the building safety manager need when a fire breaks out? ‘I want your definition of what you need’.

AELX OLDMAN refers to Richard Whittaker’s anecdote (in another meeting) about the 2 fires he had to deal with in an 18-month period and having to decamp 150 households overnight – ‘that's the operational sharp end’. JACK WHITE sees that what Alex spoke about is ‘all operational’. It’s not possible to have zero risk, but what is the work that is done to make buildings as safe as practicable? How do we maintain buildings as well as we can to minimize the chance of an emergency situation occurring?

PAUL WHITE will be attending the roundtables at DCW. RICHARD says just over 20 people have signed up so far. WILL PERKINS will be attending.

WILL PERKINS wonders, ‘at the roundtable, what exactly is the question that Alex is asking us?’ RICHARD said the question is ‘what does the operational round table think is needed for that (limiting and mitigating smoke risks)?’ ALEX says it's about specifying the information requirements of assets to start the data collection process. RICHARD says they are going to be working on 2 possible scenarios: a fire door being painted and a carpet being installed. He asks the group if they can think of any other possible scenarios that could be used.

JACK WHITE thinks that thinking in terms of someone’s carpet in terms of asset management is nowhere near what we’re looking to do (considering that there are buildings riddled with holes/fire doors not working/disconnected combustible cladding etc.).

RICHARD asks PAUL and WILL ‘what do you think the question should be?’ WILL responds ‘what does BIM4housing want out of that roundtable event?’ RICHARD says ‘what do you think we should want out of it?’

ALEX says what’s clear is that ‘we’re trying to promote the work of BIM4housing at Digital Construction Week. So, the 1st object is, we want more members and participants, more discussion (everyone agrees with this). Also, to highlight the publications we’ve got. We have to put in place a process where we’ve designed and put the right things in place and make sure they’re operating in the required state: how do we do that? Maybe there are discussion points about low/medium/high budgets. The focus for the discussion will be about spread of smoke and compartmentation requirements and mitigating the risk.’

LYSA NICELY writes her proposed wording on the question via chat: ‘BIM 4 Housing has a suite of xxx to assist Operational Teams - What additional requirements do you think may be needed to mitigate smoke spread?’ ALEX thinks it's good and that the ‘xxx’ are technical publications.