Operations pre DCW - BIM4HOUSING AT DIGITAL CONSTRUCTION WEEK
GEORGE let’s say, for example, in Stephen’s case, you’ve got some smoke dampers in. Any inspection and fire stopping needs to be referenced back to that particular asset, that fire collar, for example.
PAUL BRAY And that’s the whole battle that we’re facing is how do you ensure that the information is recorded against that asset, whether it's a fire damper or a door. And that's why building information management systems are really really important. That's the only way forward because unless you've got a robust way of recording that information, historical data, and maybe on existing properties or assets you need to draw a line under it where you can't get the full history, but you’ve had a full service test on that piece of equipment because some of it's gonna be a lot older, but it's still serviceable. So you need a competent survey where you've carried out that, then you record it against a unique reference number for the asset. But I think, yeah, that's the way that this industry needs to go. This is one of the things that Dame Judith Hackitt picked up in a report when she talked about the materials used in the building industry and in particular, if we're looking at residential buildings, that you could bring in any piece of equipment, it could be a plasterboard, could be a piece of timber, could be any piece of structural material and you wouldn't know where it came from.
And that's where we need to go as an industry, as five professionals and as social landlords to start putting these unique recording systems in place, whether it's QR codes. But that piece of paper that’s not recorded against that actual asset doesn't mean anything as far as I'm concerned, because how do you know it was for the door that was…the door could be changed in between that. So I fully support what you’re saying, George, and others. How do we do this in a coordinated and consistent way so that we haven't got multiple systems…every like social landlord, from my point of view, shouldn't have a different system that cannot be easily read by others.
GEORGE I think the important thing is that what we need to do is focus on the data rather than the software applications, because there's always going to be new, innovative software applications come out. What’s critical is that as a landlord, you know what assets are in the building and therefore whatever information is recorded against it needs to be using a common ID so that that ID is sustainable.
PAUL BRAY Yeah, I couldn't agree more, but my biggest battle that I find is sometimes making that interoperability between different programs that we use. I could probably list 4 without thinking of different systems that are used within my organisation for recording data. And if you wanna change the data system, you have to go through an IT process which takes months, and then it moves on. However, that is a frustration that probably we all feel, but it needs to be really…I agree with you in principle that the data set needs to be needs to be straightforward, but all these different applications need to be able to speak to each other and that's the challenge that I think we face or I face going forward.
ELLIOTT DAWSON I agree with both what Paul and George are saying. George and Richard, we were on a call on Friday, and I’ve given it some thought over the last few days. We’ve created a system which we believed was an independent system, but that's for fire doors. So if a building has 10-50 other golden threads stored somewhere, I think we have a duty of care and it should be incumbent that whichever file or system you use should be able to export a CSV file to a central database which collates all the information under its separate headings. And that for me is the key to collating everything that we've got going on because you'll have people using different software…but the ultimate goal is that there is a CSV file exported which commonly links into a generic golden thread database for each building. I suppose the question is who is in charge of setting that up, and then how do you collate all the databases to speak to the one central one?
RICHARD Everyone’s got their own golden thread, haven’t they? So, everybody is starting from a different start point, and in most cases actually finishing somewhere different as well. George, I know you’ve been using that analogy quite a lot, haven’t you?
GEORGE Yeah, I have. I think the encouraging thing is that people are talking about golden thread. The thing we need to do now is make sure that we are creating it in something that’s manageable, otherwise it’s going to fail and then everybody's going to get disappointed.
RICHARD But as you say, the focus for this meeting more is about the data itself goes until you’ve got that right the golden thread is silver, or whatever.
PAUL HAYLES I think much of this could possibly be resolved if we were to create as a Group A model based around a building in my. From my perspective on housing that would help. And all of those things that are common to a building and separate units, you could give a good example which people could follow. People quite often want to do that, in standards developments people are always saying, well, have you got a template, alright, let's take the template apart and recreate it within this British standard, so it doesn't belong to anybody but we actually get the information we need under all those sections. I don't think it's insurmountable, but we do get engulfed in it. So, our information at Orbit is combined with customer information and that is one of my issues with safety because the database is so huge and unwieldy. Quite often I've seen the team chat, there’s 40 odd people in our team now, and the team chat is I'm still waiting for Active Age to load up, I’m still waiting for this. Doesn't exactly make for a slick system, does it, to deal with sort of safety issues or show the regulator or anyone who wants to look, this is how we manage.
Can you imagine that you're sitting there and waiting for 10 minutes for something to load up, that’s not impressive at all. And I also thought that the building safety case would be a really simplistic way of directing people, and I've seen various different inputs of that looking overly sophisticated, because we're all collecting that data generally now anyway, we should be. And there's just that decision, a couple of sheets at the top, which explains why you think you're building is safe. And then every other bit of information that it should link to should prove that point. And again that is the real high level, the safety case file is the real high level of why I think that block is safe and then when you drill down, yes, you're gonna get down to individual doors, door seals, jobs that have been allocated to a contractor to fix a bit of fire stopping.
GEORGE I think in answer to your question, Paul, what I’m finding people are getting confused about is there’s the safety case report and then there’s the building safety management system. The safety case report is a snapshot in time where somebody has done a review and they’ve come up with a report which tomorrow could be out of date. Whereas the duty of care on landlords is to have in place a building safety management system that is constantly there to be updated. If, for example, an AOV goes out, then you need to be able to report that, and it may be that you need to report that to the fire brigade. And therefore we need something live which is constantly being updated as simply as possible, so that you can then cut a view at any one time.
PAUL HAYLES I’d argue you can do both. You’re right, the snapshot, let’s say we create it on the 1st of January, but we do have those other systems which support that are continuously moving and changing and the safety case file, or the systems that could hold it I've looked at, would potentially show you all of your red warning lights on the things that you said supported your statement. So just because you say we've got an up-to-date FRA, if when you open that particular building safety case file report it's got a red, then you know that actually there's something that's live that's happened there. So it’s the static, yeah, this is why we think that building is safe, but there's that acceptance that it's a continuously moving thing.
GEORGE Yeah, exactly. I’m running Active Plan as well and we’re trying to provide that ongoing system, and we also want to work with other people that are doing that same thing because the size of the task for all of the buildings in the whole country is huge. What’s important is that we all use standard protocols so that there's a method that that can be achieved. But just to give you an example, we're working for a Council at the moment where they’ve done quite a good job in that they’ve got fire risk assessments, external wall surveys, building safety case report. They’ve got a whole range of technologies in, they’ve got ACO that have put sensors in, they’ve got Hilti inspection system for doors and fire stopping and they’ve also got Firlux for emergency lighting. So, these are all live data sets, but they’re all separate.
What was interesting, we went into the O&M's and we found that they did a big piece of remediation work a couple of years ago and they used Boris, or the contractor that did all the fire stopping used Boris. Again, that was a separate report. And the current people that are doing fire stopping inspections have not even looked at that. So, when they're going through doing their fire stopping reports, they're not actually relating it back to the same assets that were in the original one, so there’s a complete break to the golden thread. We’ve created a spatial model, Active Plan allows you to create a spacial model so that you know where the spaces are in relation to fire compartmentation and then the different things. And therefore that can become a master which has got a unique ID against which all of these different systems can then report. So then it doesn't really matter whether the fire door inspector is using Hilti or Plan Radar or whatever software that they're most familiar with, as long as they're relating it back to that unique data key.
But the other aspect of that is we we're talking with the Elliott last week about looking at details. So to be able to relate the fire door information (Elliott manufactures fire doors and therefore they’ve got those records). But also if we’ve got the details and also what substrate it’s going into, then you’ve got the big picture. If you then also incorporate that the specification that the architect would have originally responded to, because yesterday we had quite a well-attended workshop from the development group. The architect PRP were explaining that they take the fire strategy plan that is done by a fire engineer, they then use that to interpret that into the solutions that they're recommending and that becomes then a specification. So what we should be doing is recording against…the door schedule that they produce, if we take doors for example, we've got the specification and the fire strategy information. We can then hold that and then when Elliott's got his information about the doors that have gone in, and also the door installers have taken their information and then in 5-10 years time, they need to inspect them or maintain them or replace them or whatever, we’ve got that whole pass through.
RICHARD We’re kind of going through (now that we’re well into the process and obviously the fire safety part of the process) exactly what is needed, how we’re getting on, how it’s working, what isn’t working. We had a good meeting yesterday with the development group, it was very nice because people were being very open. The problem always is, and it’s one of the reasons I was doing the 1-to-1s, that if you’ve got a group you tend to defend your position. But yesterday people were very upfront and they were, well, we’re using this and it’s not that great, or we’re using this and it’s working very well because. That’s what I’m hoping to do today. What about you guys, how are you fixed?
JACK WHITE I think we’re making very good progress. We’ve got about 65 HRB states, 75 blocks and 80-odd cores. We’ve laser scanned more than half, we’ve surveyed about 3/4 and so then we’re putting that on our built environment system. We’ve just put a couple on to see how well that information goes in, to check it’s all working, and we’ve got that to a stage now where we’re just about to start uploading the second…we’ve made our changes, done our learning, and are starting to upload hopefully the rest that we’ve got. Assuming that goes smoothly then I think we’ll be in a good position. We imagine we’ll have kind of a full element register for all of our fire and safety structural relevant elements come 1st October, the enforcement. Obviously we want to do more in terms of having that link to a model so we can really understand our blocks and our buildings and how that all fits together. I don’t think we’ll quite be there for all of them, we want to have more in-depth data around…the register I’m talking about will just say we have one detection head there, but won’t say the make and model. We think we’ll get that with time when we go to repair, replace or things like that.
RICHARD So, you’re having it almost growing organically as you go along?
JACK WHITE Yes, absolutely. Hopefully by 1st October we will have that baseline information, the foundations that allow us to have all this further information. We’re in the process of starting to come up with the protocols that the business will have to adhere to keep that information up-to-date, which is the difficult part, really. People who have their day jobs, who have their set ways of working don’t necessarily want to change, and we’re asking them to do things differently. We’re trying to make it easy and trying to say it will make their job easier in the future, but we’re trialing that in terms of for the fire door checks because that’s a new stream of work so there’s not an existing way of working. We’re trying to get that kind of activity stage where we do carry out repairs or inspections and capturing that information. We’re starting out on that journey.
RICHARD we’ve got a workstream going on at the moment with Alan Oliver who wrote for the NHS a guide for fire door inspections. type 1 being new installations, Type 2 being those that are already in existence, and those first two have to have proper full on inspections. Type 3, less so - they’ve had 1 or 2, so Type 3 is more than keeping it ticking over, but you get my drift. He’s been holding meetings with us to do one for housing, and that’s kind of in process. It’s just you mentioned the regimen.
JACK WHITE I guess we’ve got a whole load of different workstreams and I’m not that worried about how they look, it’s how we capture the data. For the fire doors I’ve said OK, these are the things that we’re being asked for in terms of legislative requirements, so let’s set them out in terms of gaps, damage etc, and then a free comments field. And this is how I would like to come back in, but for other things I’m happy for people to say this is what we do. OK, we can have this information stored in document format, we can have these fields going into database, that’s the bit that I want to get to. And then I want to agree what are the time lines for that, how will you ensure that we’re doing that, how will we manage and monitor this. Those are the bits in terms of keeping the information live, I’m more concerned with how we get those processes to keep that information up-to-date, rather than necessarily setting exactly what those activities might look like. We’re doing fire door checks for 11-plus, but everything else 18-plus.
GEORGE Mustafa was on yesterday, Jack, and he was saying that you’ve identified 65 elements or asset types. What would be useful (unless you object to that), we did a lot of work with the HACT data set, if you could let us know which ones you’ve identified as being the critical ones, and it might be that we can help to provide some more information against those, making sure we’ve got the right Uniclass codes against them.
JACK WHITE We’ve done that mapping, I’m not a huge fan of Uniclass or HACT necessarily. I find it a bit frustrating that they’ve got it and said, well, there’s Uniclass and you go into the activities and there’s ballet dancing and all sorts. I think it could have really could have been stripped to make it easier. The idea that people just align to it, some people might say, well, this is a door, and that’s at one level, and some people might say this is a fire door and that’s at a different level.
GEORGE Yeah, we’er trying to simplify that, say it’s a door and then the door has then got an attribute which is a fire door.
JACK WHITE That’s the route we’ve gone down. There’s no real hierarchy to our elements, but each of them has their own specific set of attributes. A boiler, for us in terms of fire safety, is it a gas boiler? Yes or no. Whereas a door has a list of 15 different attributes in terms of thickness, material etc.
GEORGE Yeah, exactly. If you’re willing, that might be a useful thing to catch up on. What we’re also doing at the moment is creating a free data library for product manufacturers to store data sheets on the products that they are supplying. So I think that's another thing that can be a useful contributor to the process. We’re looking at how to prepare for the Digital Construction Week because we’ve got a slot at DCW like we did last year.
ELLIOTT DAWSON We’re exhibiting at FIREX and basically pushing the new UKCA external marking we’ve got on doors and fan lights and side lights.
PAUL HAYLE We’ll discuss that with Kelly and see who they want to go up there and represent. The whole idea of the sort of golden thread and information is Kelly’s, but obviously she’s not always available to get to these meetings. I'm always interested to attend and say what I what I can contribute, but leave me to come back to you on that.
STEPHEN GORE I’m able to come this year. It’s fine if it’s 12pm.
PAUL BRAY I’m trying to justify going that far to Excel on the 18th May, because it’s a 2-night hotel stop. But you've also got the one at the car museum in Staffordshire, an event on the 26th of May? I’m trying to justify which one I can go to, because of the entry and travel costs. Jack, it was interesting what you were saying about your fire door stuff, I’ve sent you a link https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/fire-safety-england-regulations-2022-fire-door-guidance . I’m on the group that’s looking at the Type 3 door check which is one of the things that we’re gonna use. I think we should look up what the government guidance is to influence our way forward, because obviously we're gonna be following a preferred path. And I think within my organisation, we're quite advanced on our fire door checks. It’s one thing that we are really advanced on to be fair, because we're way behind on the building safety case and the information gathering from that point of view. I think we're all at different levels of maturity or progression through this process. So it's really interesting hearing what people have got, and George, outside of this we're trying to have a conversation around what your own company can provide us with regard to completing the safety case processes or the compliance with the building safety app.
GEORGE The bit that you perhaps missed at the beginning, Jack, one of the things that’s becoming pretty clear over these last few weeks, we’ve been doing quite a lot of work with Origin, Tower Hamlets and Barnet as well. We’ve been looking at how we can take information…to some extent the golden thread has been very good. We’ve got so many golden threads how, as Elliott was saying earlier, and therefore as a landlord you’ll end up with dozens of them. Which is good that the information is being recorded, but something needs to bring them together. What we’ve been finding is, for example, somebody’s been doing a fire stopping audit using Bolster, it’s a good application, but what’s clear is that it’s actually just recording the inspection, it’s not actually relating it to an asset.
And we’ve found this over the years even on maintenance. People are using SFG 20 as the standard for doing the maintenance, which is great, but it doesn't actually relate back to a unique asset. With doors, fire stopping, fire dampers for example, you need that initial baseline to say that is the unique asset that’s effectively owned by the landlord, and there’s a unique ID against that which ideally comes from when it was first specified and installed so that you've got all those record information. If you don't have that, then you need to create it when you're doing your surveys, but that becomes a unique ID that then becomes persistent through all of the different information sets that are then gathered against it, so that you've then got a proper history.
Because we’ve found that different fire door inspectors, for example, will use different software applications, so there’s going to be a profusion. What we need to do is just agree with those different software providers that they will provide their information in a machine-readable form. I’ve spoken to several, and they’re willing to do that. But the problem is that everybody that uses them can create their own data, so they can create their own data templates so they collect their own information and they use different IDs. So therefore, what we should be doing is when somebody's doing a fire door inspection or a smoke damper inspection, we ought to be trying to standardise the questions that are asked so that we’ve got some way of comparing.
JACK WHITE I understand the thinking, but I think…we’re absolutely doing the everything's having unique ID linked to our enhanced hierarchy. Not just a kind of element level, because you might have a survey done to a flat or to a building or it might be an alarm system, so you need IDs for lots of different things. As far as standardisation, I think to try and get everyone to agree on everything is not really possible and we just need to sort out internally what we want and go about getting it in whatever way works best because we’ve got enough of a challenge to try and get people to change the way we work. Now I just think we should get people to change within our organisations to get them to work in terms of what we’re looking for rather than just saying you must meet this industry standard that’s been agreed by a patchwork of people.
Let’s decide what we really want because between us here we could all sit and decide, but we might get it wrong. There’s got to be an iterative process and. There’s been things that we’ve done where we’ve got it wrong because we’ve not set it out and now everyone needs to do it. We’re very agile and able to say, OK, scrap that, or we really need to add in that, we should have done that before. I think we should be steering clear of aiming for standardisation and just getting people to really understand what they want. And yes, we want some broad standardisation, but not getting down to details really.
ELLIOTT DAWSON Just to move forward on that point that Jack’s just made, you’ve got the juxtaposition of a couple of different things. For fire doors it’s quite straightforward, now you should be third-[arty accredited. So from a maintenance perspective we have implemented what the third-party accreditors require as their maintenance section. So that will be standard across every single company that use let’s say BM Trada as their third-party accreditor. However, the problem you have is that that really doesn't mean anything because that door should be maintained to the installation manual that the door has been tested to. So, you get this hybrid or this cross-section of what…absolutely you should be looking at your margins, your door closer etc., but ultimately that door needs to be in the same state as it was when it was installed, otherwise it's not fit for purpose. So, every door is installed slightly differently according to its test history and its field of application. So I think you're right, Jack, in the fact that as long as you’re covering the basics for every element of that building, you're gonna be a lot further along than we were previously. But you're never gonna capture everything in one holistic set of maintenance requirements, because every single product is manufactured and tested slightly differently, so you can't standardise the maintenance side. You have to agree your basic parameters of X, Y and Z and then move that forward.
RICHARD Has anybody looked at the new product testing stuff that’s coming out, the Morel Report? Do you think that’s gonna make a difference? Is that gonna standardise the…There’s a good article that encapsulates it in Building, that’s what I used as a cheat sheet. You were talking, Elliott, about how everything is tested slightly differently. I’m wondering if that report is implemented it might actually change that.
ELLIOTT DAWSON Yeah, it comes down to the basic model. So, if you’re BM Trada you will say your margins need to be, part of the maintenance is your margins within that door set need to be within the required tested parameters of the field of application of that door. What does that mean? That means that the person maintaining it needs that field of application, or certainly the installation manual to that door, to say right, well, the margin needs to be within 2 1/2 to 4 mil all the way around, and anything more…But that will differ, only by 1/2 a mile to a mil, but it will differ. We're actively trying to increase the margin for ease of maintenance and installation, but as soon as that changes.
Let’s say for devils argument, we managed to get 6 mil. If somebody went to maintain our door and saw a 6 mil gap, they'd be like, shit, I can’t do anything with this, it needs a new door, unless they've seen the test evidence. So, standardisation is nigh on impossible because it all relates to that particular product, and it it's how we get that information. So we attach our field of application and the installation manual into the installation record that sits on and this independent platform, but you still need to access that prior to maintenance to know what you're looking for.
JACK WHITE I think as well we need to remember the context we’re working in, and scrambling about post-Grenfell we’d struggle to know whether we owned a building, whether we had responsibilities for it anyway. And so to go from that to trying to say let’s maintain our fire doors…OK, there’s a 5 mil gap, well actually in terms of prioritising and risk and looking at a building holistically, what we’re looking for is compound errors. There’s no door closer there, there’s a lot of combustible material in the hallways, there's combustible external walls. That’s the kind of risk we need to be dealing with first before we get down to that level and I think we need to keep that in mind. Which is why I kind of said I'm happy with just making sure we've got a full register of elements as that base, and look that's a start, if you speak to anyone outside the sector, it might not seem like a start, but I do genuinely think it is for us and it's just worth remembering that.
GEORGE Agreed. Part of the process is for us for now to figure out how, for example, information could be gathered more easily. We've already done a lot of work over the last couple of years in terms of getting the various different experts in smoke dampers and systems and sprinkler systems to give us their views as to what's needed, and what’s certainly become clear is that you need to have the whole context of the asset, not just the individual asset itself. You need the context of the space it’s going into, the other elements that are then forming part of that treatment, as the HSE call it. Obviously on existing buildings that’s quite a challenge to pull together, but it’s a matter of probably deep-diving O&Ms, if they’re available, to be able to find what the original door schedules were and specifications. And if you haven’t got that, you’ve got to do it from scratch through doing surveys, and it’s probably a combination of doing those two things.
But the key thing is that the safety case report, that’s not the goal, that’s not the end, it’s just a snapshot in time. And you need to have a safety management system in place to do that, and what’s needed is for us to identify what information do we need to get from, maybe, refurbishments where the information needs to come through from designers in a structured way that we can then manage going forward.
PAUL BRAY I want to come back to a point that Jack made earlier. But, also George, there are two clear elements. The main priority for me is getting information for existing buildings, especially we're talking about the Building Safety Act requirements because we've got 6 high rise in our portfolio. We've got maybe at most 10 buildings that go over 11 meters, we’ve around and we've measured buildings that we didn't realise we're over 11 meters. And most of them are older buildings and the information on them, you’re lucky if you’ve got anything on archive. We've got blueprints of the buildings going back to 1960s, 70s. Fortunately for the high rise we're retrofitting sprinklers in there, so we've got better sprinkler information or better plans because of the sprinkler information.
But that starting point which we need to put into our asset data management system needs to be, you need to have a survey point, because you haven't got the original data, you haven't got a field of applications for a lot of the installations. Even door sets that are less than 10 years old, you’ll be working off global assessments which may not be valid now wince Grenfell when they’ve removed a lot of them, especially on our doors which are FD60s. So it's accepting what's the starting point for you as your building, and with new buildings the biggest problem I’ve got with newer buildings when we have them built, I’ve developed quite a strong cooperation process with our in-house development team. But trying to get building information management systems integrated into new builds, it’s just a non-starter. The companies that work for us do not understand BIMs, they do not asset tag information stuff going in, there’s nothing that correlates with information that we use.
And then it goes back to the point that you made, Jack, I think it’s more about the culture of an organisation than about getting people to come along on that journey. There’s a lot of us fire professionals that understand that the culture needs to change, but changing it at that micro-level or within an organisation to gather that information together in one place, that’s the biggest challenge that we all face. As you said, Jack, it’s probably not easy to do it in a uniform way across the industry, but you may need to understand what you need to do as an individual organisation and get assistance from people like the people that are in the room now to push that forward. The challenge is there, we need to differentiate between new builds and existing buildings, accept the standard between existing buildings, I think it’s covered within the guidance from Hackitt and the Building Safety Act. It will be less than a new build, we need to accept that.
Another point, I found this difficult to understand which piece of legislation fits where and how do they overlap with each other. So in order for my organisation to understand that I've created a report which called achieving compliance with new fire safety legislation, I’ve just written it a couple weeks ago, and I think it might even need updating now because of the new guidance that come out. I did it specifically for PCH, my company, so that I could then encourage them to set up a task and finish group which would focus solely on the fire safety elements for compliance with the new legislation because we’re not quite meeting the standards, and I’m not sure we’ll meet the standards by October 1st. So, this is what I’ve put together. I’ve created a second one which I’ll be happy to share once I’ve taken all the other PCH information out. I’ll be interested to get some feedback about it, it’s about 8 pages with reference documents in it.
Would it be a template for people to use to see how close they are towards compliance, what they need to do to get towards compliance, because it talks about the golden thread and what you need to do create a safety case. I’ve taken a lot of information from the health & safety executive, with all the links there. I’ll finish this off today and I’ll be happy to share it with this group. I think this might help us solve some of the other questions about how do we gather information. What do we need to have? That’s the thing that puzzles me. There’s so much we think we need to do, do we all agree that we need to do that?
RICHARD Bex, we’ve just been going through looking at the information needed. We want to know where everyone is on their paths. So, how are you doing now, Bex?
BEX GIBSON We have done a matrix of information that we've got, we’ve gone through the building Safety Act line by line, working out what exactly it means and what exactly we have to support for the building safety case report. We’ve gone through some of our old archive stuff, the paper files, someone’s scanned those to make those digital. The struggle now is keeping that momentum, because what we want is a portal, a live document on a site that links to the information that we’ve got rather than contains the information we’ve got. We’ve got all of those things, it’s just linking those up, that’s the next step now. We’ve worked out what we have, where we have it, whether we need it or whether it’s just nice to have. We’ll go, OK, we’ll keep that for after October, but all of the needs are where we are right now, we’ve just got to work out that linking the information bit.
RICHARD So, as far as you’re concerned, you’re ready.
BEX GIBSON Define ready.
RICHARD OK, let me throw this out, which somebody said the other day. Define ready. Well, how would you define ready? Would you say the most important thing is to be compliant, or would you say the most important thing was to be safe?
BEX GIBSON On both of those I’d say we’re ready, but it’s the end product which the regulator wants which we’re not ready. So, we know we’re compliant and our buildings are safe because we have all those things already in place, but that one stop shop case report, we don’t have that yet.
RICHARD Right, we were talking about that earlier, George was explaining that there are actually two documents or two outputs.
GEORGE What I guess I’m saying, Bex, is that a lot of people are trying to be in place to, when they register their building, obviously you’ve got to be able to have a safety case report when it’s required. But the point is that isn’t the end, that’s actually just the beginning, it’s only a snapshot in time. Therefore the safety case report is really a view at that point in time of the safety management system that you've got in place. I think you’re doing exactly the right thing in looking to pull all that together. The other thing you missed at the beginning, I think you’re very into information management so you’ve probably covered this already, but we’re finding the inspections that people are doing on fire doors, fire stopping etc, often the records about those, the golden thread of what that person is doing, isn’t actually being related back to a unique asset. Jack, for example, what they’re doing in Clarion is every single asset they want to track they’ve got a unique ID against and therefore any inspections and things is always going to be referenced back to that unique ID. I think that's what we need to make sure is happening, because we're working for a Council at the moment and they've used Bolster a couple of years ago when they did some big renovations.
So the Bolster report, we’ve been able to take the data out of it and identify where the pins are in the building, so you’ve got the relationship between the pin and the space. But, they’ve now got a new firm that’s doing fire stopping inspections and they’re doing it brand new, so they’re not relating it back to the original Bolster information. Because that wasn’t easy for them to do, it was a separate file, separate document, separate report. So, the Council has two sets of information that aren’t related to each other and that obviously is not really what’s needed. As we’ve drilled through that, you also need to record what the specification was of that item and how that ties back to the fire strategy of the building. So, it’s really a matter of just gluing the stuff together.
RICHARD We really wanted to get down to what information do we actually need. Jack’s saying pretty high level information, I think that’s fair. George, I think, would probably say we need to be more granular. Would that be fair?
GEORGE No, what I’m saying is I think what Jack’s doing is right. All I'm saying is that if we can collect the information in a structured form, then the rest of the information can be gathered incrementally.
RICHARD So it’s not about what information it is, you’re stipulation, if you like, would be about the form it’s actually in.
GEORGE Yeah, and doing so, having a process in place, so that for example just knowing on an existing building where the dampers are is a good first step. Then if you can identify what type of damper they are then that’s the next level fo granularity. And if you’ve got those in proper libraries then you can add the additional information and you might then look through the O&Ms and identify, ahh, it was an Actionair whatever that was used at that time, so therefore can we at least put against that item a data sheet from Actionair about that model number.
RICHARD So, you and Jack are not taking antithetical positions, it’s complimentary. Well, that’s no fun, is it?
GEORGE The other thing I would say is that it's also a matter of not doing the absolute minimum, though. So the reason I'm saying that is that we don't know what is going to be required in six months time, a year's time because the regulator doesn't know. And to be frank events will drive that. When something happens, we’re already seeing it now with mould, all of a sudden building safety, everything was about fire and structural safety and now mould is on the agenda. Therefore, ventilation becomes an issue and people are now looking to put sensors in to be able to pick up on that. That’s something that a year ago people probably wouldn’t have been as bothered about. Sustainability, for example, as long as we can record what the spaces are and what the assets are, if we've got that information from the fire safety point of view, because that's the important thing that we've got, then you can start to overlay additional information against that because you've got a good base data set to work to. I think that’s where we’re going. For example one of the things that we’re doing at the moment as Active Plan, we’ve got work going on with EPDs. We’re standardising environmental product declaration information so that that can then be brought through If we can do that it means that the information can be done incrementally, it’s not big bang.
ALEX OLDMAN Tell me what have we agreed? Can somebody briefly summarise what we've agreed?
JACK WHITE We've agreed nothing. We've had some good discussion, though.
RICHARD I think most people agreed with what Jack was saying, and most agree with what George was saying. It was more a question of emphasis rather than anything else.
ALEX OLDMAN (regarding attending DCW on the 18th May). That might be difficult, I might have to potentially reshuffle. I’ll let you know.
RICHARD We don’t know who’s going. There’s a lot of people who’ve said they’re coming, but will they. 80% of the people who are tentative actually turn up on the day for our meetings, which is quite surprising.
ALEX OLDMAN Have we got ideas of specific topics? Or is that what we now need to agree in the next 20 minutes?
RICHARD It’s the age old question which we’re going on and refining all the time, which is information, what’s actually needed, how to present it, how to manage it. Today was intended to be more about the information side of things, but once you’ve got to a certain level it’s impossible to stop there, you’ve got to get on to, that’s fine, but it’s got to be managed in a certain way. We spoke about different software systems for doing that, issues with the fact that there are so many different software systems, the fact everybody’s got a different golden thread. They’re not really golden threads, they’re strands that go into the golden thread, I think it’s a bit of a misnomer to call them golden threads. Everybody’s got a different strand of the golden thread and it’s got to be brought together.
ALEX OLDMAN In terms of organising, just thinking about what happened last time. Certainly lessons learned, I think we need time to sit down and understand what the task is and encourage those conversations because I think we had a lot of interruptions last time.
RICHARD I think there sere issues as well with the last lot and the equipment wasn’t working.
ALEX OLDMAN There were sort of 6 or 8 tables I think, and are we taking the same approach as last time?
RICHARD I’d say semi, I think it will be maybe more of a 1 or 2 larger groups. It’s an hour, which will be 45 minutes by the time you’ve got the changeover at each end, so it’s not really very long. It’s like last time to some extent. The end point was semi-predetermined before we actually had the meeting. Like last time I imagine we’ll get a lot of walk-ins.
ALEX OLDMAN OK, but at this point do we need to agree what the questions are that we're gonna be doing and organise ourselves or have we got another series of discussions to happen between now and then?
RICHARD No, it’s all basically feeding into George to organise for the day.
PAUL BRAY I think that’s a key point, like a terms of reference of what is the purpose of the group, what are we trying to achieve because we’ve talked around a lot of topics this morning and I’m not sure that we’ve actually come up with an agreed way forward that is going to drive movement. I’d be interested in what is it that we want to try and get out of this meeting and the 18th May. There’s so many topics to talk about that you could become overwhelmed with it, so I think we need to start somewhere, grab one of these threads and follow it through to the end.
RICHARD Yeah, the thread we’re trying to grab is information. What actually do you need, what are you going to do with it, how are you going to restore it and retrieve it, how are you going to update it.
PAUL BRAY So, if we look at what’s required to create a safety case, taken from the guidance put out by the government, I think that’s where your starting point is, that’s the information that you want. And there’s a whole list of bullet points which…I’m looking at the note I put together and it’s talking about the profile of the residents, so how do you get that information together? What systems we got in place for that? Information about the building, that’s quite hard on an older building, even newer buildings we got that, building height numbers, some of that is quite simple. Then the common parts of the building and again that comes back to building plans and surveys.
So what are we using in order to gather that information, what is suitable for each organisation to have. It also feeds back into the information that the fire and rescue services require from landlords. I meet with the fire and rescue service every 3 months and I spoke to them around the provision of plans. From the 23rd January we’re supposed to have loaded plans to portals, I had to give them a plan that they could use without using the plans that we’ve already got which are from the secure information boxes. They’re looking at accepting the plans that they’ve already got, their risk information plans accepting them, and they’re gonna send them to us first to send back to them to say can you confirm that the existing layout of your building hasn’t changed since the plans were done, and then we’ll accept them as the plans.
This is where we get really complicated because some five rescue services may not have that system in place, they may not be so agreeable with a way forward, Somerset deal with multiple landlords, it’s not just us. So you gotta come up with a common approach. And then this is where I think we need to focus on our information. What’s required to create a Bible safety case, and I know that’s what George was talking about earlier. There are clear bullet points within the guidance provided by the HSE, the building safety regulator and in the building safety act which do that. And then I'm looking at what about this required from the fire Safety England regulations which introduced another 8 things that link into the Building Safety Act information to resident.
For me, if I had a package that I wanted for one building or an organisation I'd want to know that my ? 1hr 11mins 44secs strategy for the residents was something that was clear, consistent and was able to be repeated without changing too much of the detail because the government requires us to send out that information to the residents every 12 months, on fire doors and evacuation strategy. I need to look at that internally within my own organisation, but is it something that we can draw together as a group of interested parties and say, well, there’s so much duplication of effort going on here, let’s try and share it. And that’s why I think is the purpose of this group. I’m trying to give you an overview of the challenges that I’m facing, which I don’t think are unique, but at the moment I need a clear…give me a job to do and I’ll do it, but at the moment there’s too many.
RICHARD Are you gonna share your document with us?
PAUL BRAY Yeah, I’ll just make sure that it’s in the best form that I can do it. There might be some areas that people will have a different point of view on, but it’s about how I see things from my point of view.
RICHARD We’re having these meetings, they all take a different turn with the different groups with the different specialisms. So it’s a question of pulling the information, learnings, perspectives, priorities from each of them to gather them into something we can discuss on the day in 45 minutes. So it’s gonna be by definition a pretty high level, we can’t go into that much detail in that sort of time given the number if subjects or strands of the golden thread to go through. It’s just gonna be a question of George taking a view and I suppose I’ll be inputting as to what the standout points that are most common between each of the groups.
PAUL BRAY I was in a board meeting the other day and the opening statement from the board chair was give us an overview of how your fire safety strategy is working within the organisation, let us know if there is anything that’s keeping you awake at night. I thought it was a great opportunity for me to actually really express to the board my concerns about where we are. We do a lot of things really well, PCH, the company I work for. I’ve put a lot of time and effort into fire safety that never really stays on budget, but what keeps me awake at night is ensuring compliance, and safety. What’s more important, compliance or safety, I think they do come hand-in-hand, what Bex was saying well. But safety, if you’re not safe and people die then the regulator will be at you as well as having to deal with the conscience, the moral issues around it. But compliance, if you’re compliant, you should be safe, that’s what I’d have thought would be the outcome of that. If I think I haven’t done that right yet, the regulator could come at me and take action issuing notice against us as a provider for something that could have been dealt with earlier. And that’s why to try and get this right before October comes in, I think there’s a lot of work to be done. That’s what keeps me awake at night, and without a concerted effort by my organisation, and also people’s assistance, sharing, that’s why networking in these type of groups is really helpful because it helps us share good practices and cuts out the time wasted on things that don’t work.
RICHARD Absolutely, you learn from somebody else’s experiences. OK, from my point of view I think we’ve got some very good input to go into the pot for George to work out exactly what we’re going to do on the day.
PAUL HAYLES What Paul Bray is offering will be really useful, If you’ve got something down in black and white we’ll all have some view and hopefully improve the document for you, Paul, or just confirm that it’s brilliant. From my perspective, I always go for safety rather than compliance because I’ve got some elements of my buildings that aren’t compliant, but are safe. I do expect that we are moving towards complying with standards across the board, but I couldn't say that all of our systems and all our elements of our systems. No, absolutely not, we’re far from that.
PAUL BRAY That’s a really good point, and I’m in exactly the same boat. But when somebody comes at you from a regulatory point of view it's quite difficult to say, yeah, it's compliant, and then that's when it hits you in the financial pocket cause your credit rating goes down when you have to report to your own housing regulator, so I keep getting informed. So I get that. I'm happy to send it out, rather than just send it to George, is there a group e-mail?
RICHARD Send it through to Jiss.
ALEX OLDMAN Thank you for your time, sorry I was only here for the last 19 minutes of it. I hope that we can see some of you in person in a month’s time at Excel.
The government have produced a fire door checklist, I would advise that you look at this when coming up with your list