Q1: How do we prevent incorrect design, selection, and installation of fire safety products?

Q1: How do we prevent incorrect design, selection, and installation of fire safety products?

GEORGE We’ve been working on this now for about a year. We've tried to pick up on the various different topics or issues or barriers that we’ve got to achieve in the golden thread. One of the key ones that we identified right at the beginning was the problem of the wrong selection of fire safety products. We kicked it off with a workshop at Digital Construction Week last May and we followed that up with a series of roundtable workshops which we’re now hopefully getting to the conclusion of. The intention is that we’re going to feed this information back into DLUHC as a proper industry response. So that’s question 1, question 2 was how do we make sure that the asset safety information actually goes through the whole lifecycle.

How do we ensure that building safety data isn’t just a snapshot in time. And also how do we address the problem of largely CPD impacting on the completeness of a design before construction starts (gateway 2). The result of that is that we’ve created four publications, I’ll show you the one that we’re actually going to be discussing now. This is where we are with this publication to date and the content of that is contractual arrangements, the role of insurers, online registers. So there is a whole range of different suggestions as to how we do things, that’s the point about this session here.

RICHARD The purpose of today, we’ve got a lot of points as to what we should be doing, how do we get round that issue, what should we do, we’ve got those points. We’ve now from the first meeting got a lot of answers as to how we’re going to fulfil those points. So this meeting is to fine tune some of those and to cover the points we didn’t cover the first time round. (Q1 document is shared on screen). The blue writing is the how points we got from the first meeting.

  1. Considerations over all

    1.a. Competence
    1.a.i  Competent individuals, with specialist training and experience, should be involved throughout the integrated program of planning, design, procurement, and construction.1.a.ii Competence is influenced by ethics and behaviours, requiring a cultural change in the industry. (This would need to be accomplished at industry-level.)

    1.a.iii Fire Service Standards:

    1.a.iii.1  Emphasizes the importance of national occupational standards.1.a.iii.2 Standards are not solely indicative of competence but provide knowledge and skills.

    1.a.iii.3 Passing certain activities and qualifications are part of meeting these standards.

    1.a.iv Training Accreditation:

    1.a.iv.1 Training can be conducted by private companies with accreditation.1.a.iv.2 Considerations include periodic refreshment of training and continued professional development (CPD).

    1.a.iv.3 These factors contribute to maintaining a skillset and achieving competence.

    1.a.v ASFP and IFS Initiatives on Competency:

    1.a.v.1 ASFP and IFS have initiated efforts for installer and designer competency.1.a.v.2 Fire Sector Safety Group's standards and NOS development align training with competency criteria.

    1.a.v.3 ASFP holds registration to indicate competency levels from beginner to expert.

    1.a.vi Client Perspective on Competence:

    1.a.vi.1 Building Regulation England includes competence requirements for designers.1.a.vi.2 Assessment of individual and organizational capacity for fire safety in design.

    1.a.vi.3 Standards internally set around British standards requirements for installation.

    1.a.vii Full suite approach: Includes planning, design, and construction processes from start to finish.

    1.a.viii Design competency: Working on establishing standards and frameworks for learning appropriate skill sets, led by Kate Melford.

    1.a.ix Active measures in construction: Diverse industry with various trade associations, lacks collaboration similar to ASFP's scale and processes.

    1.a.x Corporate competence: Businesses need appropriate Professional Indemnity (PI) cover aligned with the level of design service offered.

    1.a.xi Product selection: Covered by harmonised European standards, with focus on performance levels linked to the golden thread.

    1.a.xii Installation competency: Scheme in place (SDI 19) to ensure competence of smoke vent system installers.

    1.a.xiii Differentiating property types: Consideration needed for varying levels of competency in fire system design based on property types.

    1.a.xiv ASFP competency levels: Varied levels of competency from simple residential to complex high-rise designs.

    1.a.xv Concerns about upskilling: Potential burden on upskilling electricians fitting domestic smoke alarms due to competency schemes.

    1.a.xvi Interfaces between elements: Emphasis on competency not only in passive elements but also in the selection and integration of products.

    1.a.xvii Competency Frameworks and Continuous Validation:

    1.a.xvii.1 Task-based activities linked to continuous competency updates.1.a.xvii.2 Validates competence dynamically during job performance.

    1.a.xvii.3 Emphasizes efficiency and compliance in the construction sector.

    1.a.xviii Cultural Change and Competence:

    1.a.xviii.1 Competence tied to ethics and behaviours.1.a.xviii.2 Cultural change required at industry level.

    1.a.xviii.3 Dynamic approach to integrating ethics, behaviours, and validation.

    1.a.xviii.4 Focus on risk management, compliance, and client satisfaction.

    1.b.Online Register

    1.b.i Maintain an online register recording responsible/competent individuals and their decisions.1.b.ii Online Register for Competent Individuals:

    1.b.ii.1 ASFP scheme includes an online register.1.b.ii.2 Consistency needed in assessing individuals across registers.

    1.b.ii.3 Some advocate for competition among registers with clearly defined assessments.

    1.b.ii.4 Standardization in the industry is crucial.

    1.c. Insurer's Role

    1.c.i Insurers can play a significant role in driving fire safety standards, e.g. offering Incentives for buildings passing risk assessments. (This would ned to be accomplished at industry-level.)1.c.ii Insurer's Role in Driving Fire Safety Standards:

    1.c.ii.1 Insurers can incentivize fire safety standards.1.c.ii.2 Loss Prevention Council (LPC) plays a role.

    1.c.ii.3 Brokers interested in mitigating Professional Indemnity (PI) costs.

    1.c.ii.4 Conversations ongoing with insurers and brokers about linking competency to risk for insurance purposes.

  2. Considerations at planning stage

    2.a. Contractual Arrangements

    2.a.i Consider changing current contractual arrangements, which can hinder good design practices.2.a.ii Implementation of a 2-stage tender approach with a Pre-Construction Services Agreement (PCSA) for design and then build.

    2.a.iii Assessing competency of contractors during tender stage aligning with PAS 8670.

    2.a.iv Changes made in contractual arrangements delaying contract until gateway 2 submission.

    2.a.v Emerging trend of new contractual forms due to Building Safety Act requirements.

    2.a.vi Transition towards risk allocation according to legal obligations.

    2.a.vii Ongoing debate within organizations regarding traditional vs. hybrid 2-stage approach.

    2.a.viii Two-stage approach favoured for prioritizing quality over lowest cost.

    2.a.ix Client's control over Pre-Construction Services Agreement (PCSA) crucial for achieving favourable pricing.

    2.b. Planning and Design

    2.b.i Maintenance personnel should be involved in the planning process.2.b.ii Inclusion of M&E and other systems in early stages of design to improve coordination.

    2.b.iii Importance of involving specialist designers early for coordinated design and risk mitigation.

    2.b.iv Importance of involving specialist subcontractors early in design stages to influence decisions.

    2.b.v Contractors may involve specialists early but work at risk without guaranteed future work.

    2.b.vi Early selection of incorrect smoke dampers poses challenges in design realization, difficult to remedy later.

    2.b.vii Increased risk for specialists due to longer lead times between pricing and onsite work.

    2.b.viii Maintenance personnel involvement essential in planning process.

    2.b.ix Engagement of manufacturers and installers in design phase ensures accurate product information and procurement.

    2.b.x Consideration of liabilities and insurance crucial when manufacturers are engaged in the design process.

    RICHARD So we’ve got contractual arrangements, 2.a.i consider changing current contractual arrangements which can hinder good design practices. We’ve got input into this already, we’ve talked about implementation of a 2-stage tender approach. How we assess the competency of contractors, emerging trends in hew forms of contractual arrangements which are coming in to usage following on from the Building Safety Act. There’s certainly a feeling that it’s a transition and it’s kind of happening not exactly automatically, but organically.

    GEORGE What we learned 2 weeks ago on this was that Metropolitan, for example, they’re actually doing that now, they’ve fundamentally changed the way in which they’re doing procurement on ew projects. So they’re looking for the design to be completed prior to gateway 2. So I’d be interested if any of the other developers, whether we’re seeing that as a trend with any other developers or main contractors. Waites are also doing it.

    JAREK WITYK I wanted to ask a question regarding what you’re showing now. What’s your view on this 2-stage tender because from my experience, I know it’s supposed to be designed to protect client interests, but it feels like open wallet surgery from the client perspective. What’s your view?

    ALASTAIR PERRY It’s not something that really impacts me in my role.

    GRAHAM WARE I’m from Riverside, but I’m not really close to this so I can’t really make a comment that will be of any use. We do have problems with contractors and I don’t think I’ll be opening up a great revelation when I say that we have major issues with contractors and their competence and the quality of the work that they do, but that’s probably true of any social housing provider.

    ROY BUCKINGHAM Define what you mean by a 2-stage tender approach, are you suggesting that the whole design phase of the building should be completed before they then price for the construction element of that as part of the design & build?

    GEORGE In principle that’s what the suggestion is. My understanding is that it’s an alternative to design & build where the design carries on into construction so that there is no certainty. One of the key issues with that, I’m being fed back all of the time that the building services is being designed too late.

    ROY BUCKINGHAM There are some issues that brings. For instance, one of the things that I find quite often in projects is that the choice of fire doors to be used in the project is left very late into the project as to who is going to be supplying those. And depending on who is supplying those will determine which product is being offered and that then has implications for the hardware and the function of those doors that are being used in the project. For instance, if access control is to be part of the project, unless you decide the doors very early on you can’t define what the fire certification is for those doors with the hardware that’s required to provide the access control functions.

    So it means that those decisions by the contractors have to be made very much earlier in the whole process because leaving the doors to a later stage which then impacts on the hardware that can be used on those doors, particularly with the defined requirements for fire certification nowadays, becomes very difficult. So it will have a definite impact on decision making of hardware and products that are going to be used in that build construction at a much earlier stage.

    GEORGE Yeah, that’s my understanding of what they’re actually trying to achieve, that the selection of solutions and products that will impact on safety needs to be done before the end of gateway 2. And if you’re then changing things after that then it needs to go through that change control process which can mean there is a delay of six weeks and you’ve got to give justification for that. So the principle behind it is to remove the opportunities to do the classic value engineering exercise, that’s apparently the process.

    ROY BUCKINGHAM That certainly seems to be the best way forward because it does iron out a lot of the problems that we get later in projects.

    MARTIN FACKRELL I’m the managing director of Mandik UK, we manufacturer fire dampers and smoke control equipment. From my experience a lot of my customers are getting involved in PCSAs and are leaning on me quite heavily for design support and I’m seeing that more and more. So I think that’s going to become something that’s happening all the time, that 2-stage is going to become the norm.

    RICHARD And you’re prepared for that from your end?

    MARTIN FACKRELL Yes we are. We offer vast amounts of training and we’re geared up for that and people come and ask us because we are geared up for that.

    GEORGE Could I just ask, one of the things that people are concerned about is that you providing that free advice and then somebody substituting down the line.

    MARTIN FACKRELL That is an absolute danger and that’s going to happen. The sell for h company is that we provide such good technical advice and support that people say this company are proactive and helpful, they know what they’re doing, we’re going to rely on them. It doesn’t always happen of course, but there is a lot of products out there that don’t do what they should do on the tin and so we point out where peoples’ products don’t do what they say they should do.

    RICHARD Presumably that’s a danger that applies to everybody.

    MARTIN FACKRELL Absolutely.

    GEORGE And the point about the construction control plan and the fact that, obviously your dampers would be considered a safety critical product and therefore they’d fall under that particular requirement for those changes to be notified to the Regulator later down the line. So that should discourage the value engineering aspect of things.

    MARTIN FACKRELL It’s very important that the consultants take all of the guidance that they have from all of the experts we have here and then not allow themselves to be changed. That you do all of that good design work, it’s all working and then someone undoes all of that work by putting in an inferior product, whether that be fire doors or whatever. I was listening to the colleague earlier on saying that fire doors at a later stage and how that drastically changes things. If something is specified it’s really important that that stays that way because all of the good work that is done around that product, that solution, that system is then subsequently changed and lost and that’s where problems come in that are not noticed.

    DEANE SALES My view on this, I’ve seen the good and the bad of these sorts of contracts from a fire safety professional perspective having worked on various projects from rail to aviation to housing. If I take rail for example, their project process is that the designs are done at pre-construction stage or at gateway 2 in order that the systems are identified, they’re designed and specified long before that project even goes out to tender. The biggest problem that I come across, and this is emulating what Martin has said, is that I get asked consistently by consultants to provide them with support in terms of the design and specification of both active and passive life safety systems. Whether that’s fire alarms, voice alarms, smoke control systems, even as far as going into things like fire doors and access control.

    There was a gentleman that mentioned about we can’t even specify what fire doors that we’re going to be putting into a project until we’ve worked out what access control systems that we’re going to be putting in. The biggest element is that when a main contractor goes into a PSA agreement with a client and then engages a consultant and an electrical contractor invariably they try to do all of this work themselves. They don’t engage early enough with the specialists to be able to support them to get all of the technical elements and technical expertise because consultancy generally will be good at things like electrical, mechanical overviews.

    When it comes to designing smoke control systems or doing access control elements or designing life safety fire alarm systems, specialists like myself, we don’t get engaged early enough. So what it ends up is consultants put their things together, it then goes out to tender and ultimately what you get then is people like me going back and saying this doesn’t work.

    COLIN NEWMAN I see this pre-construction design process really just readdressing the balance. For too long we’ve focused on cost and programme as the primary measure as to whether or not a project has been successful and at no point along that have we really stuck to, does this actually meet the technical brief? Has the design been done correctly? And does it all actually fit together? Instead we’re left with these disparate parts that are just cobbled together to meet at programme and a cost envelope. And that’s probably why we’ve had such catastrophic failings of why so many of the projects that we’ve had in recent teams we’ve spent lots of time going back to and trying then to right the catastrophe that it then turned out to be.

    JAREK WITYK Just to explain why I started this. I’m an electrically biased designer, consultant, experienced in stage 4 onwards design. And I can see there is a massive difference between the group of people who design up to stage 3 and that design is completely different than the actually finished product. What’s also happening, there is a misalignment of the architecture structure design in comparison to MEP design. Quite often you’d have architecture developed to RIBA stage 4 while M&E is still at stage 3 or even less. And what that is causing, because the procurement needs to carry on and keep going, you then have this 2-stage tendering process based on cost plans. It would be nice if the design was finished, but in practice it’s not and everything is based on cost plans which then means there’s a lot of changes down the line and the client has to pay for it. It doesn’t really work and I just wondered what can be done about it.

    RICHARD That’s what we’re trying to do, to get the wisdom of crowds here. 2.b. Planning and Design, this is about getting people onboard at an early stage. I think we’ve covered that. 2.b.ix Manufacturers and installers should be engaged early during the design phase, a little bit further up we’d said also M&E and maintenance.

  3. Considerations at design stage

    3.a. Planning and Design

    3.a.i Manufacturers and installers should be engaged early during the design phase to ensure accurate and reliable product information and correct procurement.

    3.a.ii While early engagement is often crucial, caution is needed to avoid manufacturers becoming designers.

    3.a.ii.1 Manufacturers' early design risk studies can be very useful.

    3.a.ii.2 The new Gateway 2 tool could encourage manufacturers to provide more project-specific information.

    3.a.iii The property owner / responsible person needs to ensure that they know the exact requirements the applicable product needs to carry and ensure the manufacturers product holds that accreditation. (E.g. The UKCA mark of Firedoor sets)

    3.a.iv Importance of identifying critical aspects in building design, like infrastructure.

    3.a.v Proposal to use Boston square or tornado diagram to prioritize critical elements.

    3.a.vi Discussion on the complexity of specifications driven by regulations and industry standards.

    3.a.vii Distinction between descriptive and prescriptive specifications.

    3.a.viii Challenge in navigating vast amounts of data, proposing streamlined approaches.

    3.a.viii.1 Importance stressed on specifying performance criteria of products during early design stages.

    3.a.viii.2 Mention of validating performance criteria through the declaration of performance (DOP) uploaded onto the golden thread.

    3.a.viii.3 Discussion on the delivery format of DOP documents, usually as PDFs.

    3.a.viii.4 Focus on aligning product performance levels listed on DOP with specified performance criteria during design.

    3.a.viii.5 Acknowledgment of current reliance on PDF documents for interpreting product data due to the lack of effective data utilization methods.

    3.a.viii.6 Emphasis on the need for human interpretation of data in the absence of standardized formats.

    3.a.ix Regarding DOPs and CCPI reading, often not digital but converted from Word to PDF.

    3.a.x The challenge lies in linking information to the "golden thread" concept, akin to a washing line, where each piece of information hangs.

    3.a.xi Unique identifiers are crucial as pegs to hold information along the thread; otherwise, there's no connection.

    3.a.xii Many DOPs lack proper linkage to specific products, often listing standards and test requirements instead.

    3.a.xiii Digital tools should be used by specifiers.

    3.a.xiii.1 Emphasis on digital tools for effective integration and classification in systems.

    3.a.xiv Careful consideration should be given to the integration of products/assets into wider systems.

    3.a.xiv.1 Consideration for integrating products/assets into wider systems through proper classification and structure.

    3.b. Product Information Standards

    3.b.i All product information should adhere to CCPI formats (Code for Construction Product Information).

    3.b.ii Recognition of product certification standards should be promoted.

    3.b.iii Discussion revolves around the need for a unique identifier for construction products.

    3.b.iv Reference to CCPI as a starting point and the importance of incorporating identifiers and classification elements in documents.

    3.b.v GS1 solutions proposed as a viable option for product identifiers due to their global adoption and standardization.
    Mention of GS1's experience in various sectors like retail and pharmaceuticals

    3.b.v.1 Standardised product attribute information

    3.b.v.2 Discussion on the integration of COBie and Uniclass systems for defining asset types and product information.

    3.b.v.3 Highlight on the necessity of standardizing descriptions across different products.

    3.b.v.4 Proposal to begin with a unique identifier to establish a relationship between BIM models, schedules, and manufactured products.

    3.b.v.5 Acknowledgment of the challenge in achieving industry-wide standardization but advocating for a hierarchical approach starting with identifiers.

    3.c. Risk Assessment

    3.c.i A complete risk assessment is required to ensure informed selection.

    3.d. Quality Assurance

    3.d.i Utilise quality assurance and asset management tools.

    3.d.i.1 These, along with contractual arrangements, should balance cost and quality.

    3.a.ii While early engagement is often crucial, caution is needed to avoid manufacturers becoming designers. 3.a.ii.1 Manufacturers early design risk studies can be very useful. 3.a.ii.2 The new Gateway 2 tool could encourage manufacturers to provide

    more project-specific information. OK, we’ve got a few manufacturers on the call, who’s got something to say on that?

    MARTIN FACKRELL I don’t think that I’ll be shocking many people to say that consultants that we work with often know very little at all. And it’s very difficult for people to design something when they have no great understanding or if they do have understanding it’s a little bit and not enough. So upskilling of designers needs to be really important because the reason why manufacturers become designers is because they’re almost stepping in for the designers.

    RICHARD Is there an element also with manufacturers not providing enough product specific information?

    MARTIN FACKRELL I think that’s very, very true that if you ask someone a question they’ll give you the answer based on the products they have available, not on what the correct answer should be. We are lucky, or well prepared, that we have products for almost every situation, so we can be honest and upfront. Other people are not in the same situation so they won’t give you all of the information that you need because that would mean you wouldn’t use their products. So the CCPI is really important, it’s something that my company is going to be involved in because I think this moral change is really important.

    And people have fort too long said if you read it this way you can get away with it and that moral change is really important.

    RICHARD Yeah, that’s the crux of many issues that we’re dealing with.

    ROY BUCKINGHAM I’d agree with everything that’s just been said, but I’d add a couple of things. Firstly I think that manufacturers actually are absolutely integral to design because they understand their products and the application that their products can be used in and the standards and regulations that their products comply with. I also agree that a manufacturer will offer solutions that is based on what they have available, but that shouldn’t be a problem providing it meets the requirements and it is a good fit for the application and the design that’s required.

    For too long manufacturers are seen as people don’t want to engage with them because they fear they’re just being sold to. If you use the correct manufacturers then they will follow that moral code and they’ll ensure that the correct solutions are put forward for that specification and for that project. It’s using unscrupulous suppliers or manufacturers are the ones that probably won’t adhere to these requirements, but I do feel that they’re integral to that design process. And early engagement is key to getting that specification right.

    GEORGE Paul McSoley from Mace, who’s one of the passionate leaders behind this, what he’s educated me on is that there’s two levels of specification: a descriptive specification which is typically what we get from NBS; and then you’ve got a prescriptive specification which is the solution to that descriptive specification. I think in part that’s what we need to get to where there is a prescriptive specification that says this is how that particular product needs to be able to perform. And that’s where the manufacturer’s input needs to come in because they’re probably the only ones that have got the knowledge to be able to detail that.

    SIMON BARNFIELD I’m the commissioner for Wolverhampton Homes. We have 20,000 homes, and  I look after the capital programme. We work very closely with manufacturers, recognise their skills and their inputs, however to push back on one point that was made which was a comment in relation to unscrupulous manufacturers. Somebody asked the question how does a client know. With the greatest of respect, manufacturers are ultimately staffed with sales people who are all very convincing, so it comes down to experience and the skills of the consultants that you appoint to be able to navigate…many clients don’t necessarily have the skillsets in house so they’re reliant on the expertise that they are provided and it’s a minefield.

    RICHARD Do you but in expertise? Do you bring in consultants as a specialist in different areas?

    SIMON BARNFIELD Yes, we do. We’re using Jacobs as our consultant, a very large global consultancy. It’s expensive, but we’re confident that we’re getting some excellent advice. We’ve 45 in-scope blocks being under various stages of refurbishment and you need to be confident that you’re actually getting things right.

    RICHARD Especially with refurbishment because there’s quite a lot of grey areas in that.

    SIMON BARNFIELD Absolutely, and to pick up on a previous point that was made, we’ve always come at this that the building regs is a minimum that we aspire to, not the maximum which has been the problem with the industry historically.

    ROY BUCKINGHAM Just picking up on a couple of points there from George and Simon. Firstly specification, I’d expand a little bit on George’s two types of specifications, descriptive and prescriptive in saying you can also have performance based specifications or product based specifications. So if you’re working with the right manufacturer they don’t have to define a specific product, they can define the performance level that you need to achieve for the solution.  And picking up on that about scrupulous and unscrupulous manufacturers, again it’s where the due diligence comes in checking that the people you’re engaging are perhaps members of trade organisations. Checking the competency levels during your due diligence of the people that you’re engaging with.

    For instance, somebody is specifying hardware for fire doors then if they’re a member of the Guild of Architectural Iron Mongers and they have registered architectural iron mongers employed within that business, then they are going to give you the best advice. And that will be performance and standards and regulations based advice rather than just product specific advice. So again, all of those elements come in and employing the right consultants who will understand that and know which trade organisations exist for those product ranges is the good way to go.

    RICHARD 3.a.ii.1 Manufacturers early design risk studies can be very useful, is that something that the manufacturers on the call normally do?

    MARTIN FACKRELL Yes, we do. We point out where there will be challenges very, very early on and we educate people to actively look for those challenges, with regard to damper compliance so that they can in theory protect themselves, but more importantly to try and solve it.

    RICHARD 3.b product information standards, this covers quite a wide area. 3.b.i All product information should adhere to CCPI formats (Code for Construction Product Information).

    MARTIN FACKRELL I have a question. The CCPI is something that my business will be getting involved in, we’ve had some training from them and that’s where we’re going. Doe everybody in the meeting think that this is going to become the norm? And if you’re not CCPI registered is that going to be a metaphorical black mark against you?

    ROY BUCKINGHAM I think this is gradually going to seep in and become a norm, certainly probably starting off with government and local authority type contracts where it can be enforced. But it’s going to take time because it’s going to need people to sign up and become part of this scheme. Certainly there is a cost to it so there is a barrier to becoming registered and involved, but it’s something that I think all companies in the construction industry should be working towards.

    STUART SOUTHALL I do think it is something that’s going to be needed. When you’ve got Tier 1 contractors, architects or manufacturers signing up to this and creating that this is the right path to go down in the information sharing etc. Then I think that’s where it starts to grow and that then if you’re not within the CCPI, we’ve checked your expertise etc you’re doing the right thing, if you’re not in there then trying to get access to those Tier 1 contractors or those projects might become more difficult as it progresses.

    ROY BUCKINGHAM It would also address some of the issues with regards to the unscrupulous manufacturers as well, because they're all following that that moral and correct way of describing their products.

    GEORGE Just to explain, the CCPI is being run by the Construction Products Association and there’s also the Office of Product Safety. I’ve been involved with both of those organisations and also we’ve spent years working with the BRE to come up with the standardised data template that can be used to standardise the way that all product information is being described. And that’s also something that the CPA have been planning to incorporate in this. There’s significant resistance from the manufacturers in the industry though, some of the major players, for agreeing to describe their products in a standardised way and we’ve been on that journey for eight years.

    So I’m just flagging up the fact that although the CCPI is an important thing to support the principle of it, we also need to try and encourage as many manufacturers as possible to standardise the way that they’re describing their products. Because at the moment data sheets are unique to every different manufacturer. I know that Roy and the ironmongery profession has done some tremendous work in that area, but there’s still quite a lot to do, there’s many products that aren’t.

    RICHARD I know in a couple of other meetings we’ve had quite intense discussions around unique identifiers, not just for buildings but for products and product attributes. Martin, how do you feel about that? Standardised product data templates and unique identifiers.

    MARTIN FACKRELL It’s a little bit easier for the world of dampers because we’ve got a harmonised product standard, a classification standard and a test standard. So we present our evidence or documentation in a similar manner now in the declaration of performance and a co cop, which is both pretty much standardised, not always, people do leave off information if it’s not good information they just leave it off which is frustrating. Overall for our products it’s probably achievable, but for other products and other systems that are not standardised in the same way, I perfectly understand how that would be difficult trying to get everybody to put their information in the same format. But it’s easier for dampers.

    RICHARD I keep asking Martin because he’s the only manufacturer I know of on the call and we’re going to be talking a lot around manufacturers responsibilities and the like. So if there’s any other manufacturer on the call please let me know and then I can call on you as well.

    RICHARD WHITTAKER I just want to reinforce what George was saying. In terms of standardisation of things, back in 1964 there was a report done by Sir Harold Emerson called The Diagonosis of Ill Health and a Call For Remedial Action and that went on to form the Banwell Committee in 1966. And that was all about the contracts that were used and the risk transfer etc, and the recommendation of the Banwell Committee was there was one standard form of contract for main contractors, one standard form for subcontractors. Now here we are in 2024 and we can’t even get a standard JCT because of client amendments. That is because as a client you can’t have a skillset in every discipline, so you have to rely on the experts to come along and make the offer.

    So you have to have something that is flexible for that offer because if it’s the right offer you’re not going to move away from that because it’s not standardised. So if we could achieve that in the future, fantastic, but I think there is a need now under the Building Safety Act and asset management and everything else, in that we have something that actually accommodates the existing. A bathroom fan is a bathroom fan, I don’t care which manufacturer it is, what I do care about is if it’s 100 litres a minute…or whatever it is. So it’s about balancing of those two journeys: the short journey for now and a longer journey to get to the absolute utopia.

    GRAHAM WARE This is a little bit off-piste, but I wanted to comment whilst we’re talking about product certification. As a social housing provider with 80,000 properties we obviously replace a lot of fire doors and I’d say fire doors are a little bit different to perhaps some other products. I know really we’re talking about new builds and new build projects, but a lot of organisations now are considering moving away from third-party accredited fire door installers because they use subcontractors so very often the standard of fit is no better than a joiner would do. But increasingly we’re finding that…as an organisation we do not now request fire door surveys because I can guarantee you any fire door survey from a third-party accredited organisation will tell me to replace every single one of my fire doors simply because I don’t have a certificate for it.

    It doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with the door, but just because I don’t have a certificate they’re saying you must replace it and that just goes around and round in a circle for ever more and it’s just not sustainable. I know this point is peculiar to fire doors, but nevertheless there is an issue there with the industry where they’ve just moved towards replacing fire doors when it’s not strictly necessary.

    RICHARD One of our BIM4Housing stalwarts is from a social housing provider and they’re doing exactly that, they’re taking out every fire door.

    GEORGE The other thing you should be aware of is that we’ve had a team working on fire doors in particular and standardising inspections of fire doors for the last year. And we’ve now got a publication which you can download from the website. The important thing about that is it’s being designed in line with what’s done in the health service and the standardised ways of doing inspections, so that’s something that will be of interest.

    PAUL Just to clarify, I was reviewing the CCPi guidance documents this morning. It actually states that each product should have product data sheets from a recognised product data template. So that is a requirement of the CCPI.

    GEORGE Excellent, that’s good news.

    ANDY BELL Just going on to the fire doors. We’re FIRAS approved, I don’t agree with some of the approvals, but I’ve got 60,000 fire doors on maintenance and we don’t condemn on non-licensed products, we’d rate the doors as nominal or notional depending on the age of the door, condition of the door and the fit of the door. And providing that the correct ironmongery is in place, the door opens and closes, the gaps are in place or can be altered, then we’d pass those doors and we do regularly. So I think again you’re coming back to these unscrupulous manufacturers, we’re also looking at unscrupulous maintenance companies.

    MARTIN FACKRELL I’m not sure I wholly agree with that because they’re not necessarily unscrupulous, and I’m not saying if they are or if they’re not, I’m saying they’re not necessarily. And my feelings for that are that if you can’t prove it it’s probably not right and there maybe some companies that say if you can’t prove it you just need to replace it then, tough. But there could be other companies that in some situations that the door is not quite right and they’re not willing to take that engineering approach that was just described: does it work, is it correct. And I’m saying we can’t prove it’s OK so it’s not OK.

    ROY BUCKINGHAM There was a couple of bits I wanted to add to that. The reality is if you’ve got how ever many thousands of fire doors which have no fire test evidence available to understand what the original performance requirement was that was achieved you’ve got no way of identifying what the performance is that you’re likely to get from that door. I agree with the notional and nominal status of doors and that should be used wisely, there is a tradeoff between obviously replacing every single door and it being viable to actually achieve. I’d suggest a lot of these people who condemn these doors are not necessarily unscrupulous, they are covering their backsides. At the end of the day they don’t want to be the ones that are pulled up when a fire spreads through a building and they were the last person to have checked those doors and said that those doors were OK.

    So there is an element of risk aversion in that sign off. At the end of the day the end client has to take an approach with an attitude to risk and decide what level of risk is acceptable and having doors accepted as notional or nominal may be an acceptable risk. But the reality is unless you have a door which has a confirmed performance criteria you have no way of understanding or knowing what performance you’re going to achieve form those doors. And I’ve been involved a lot in fire testing when minor changes in hardware can have a dramatic impact on the way that a door performs.

    GEORGE It also needs to be taken into account the fire strategy for the building and also the rest of the compartmentation. So it may well be that a door may not be perfect but it can certainly withstand an hour or more fire, in which case it may well be satisfactory. This is what I’ve been told, Roy, from people far cleverer than me.

    COLIN NEWMAN I think the other issue that we’ve got is more often than not the fire strategy is missing, or was never actually fully documented, so we don’t know how important or how critical a particular door is. The organisation in question has never considered and published its risk appetite so we don’t know what risk they’re willing to accept, or not. Then on top of that the PORS? 46ins 48secs contractor that’s been used to assess the condition of a fire door or any other part of the fire precautions is also got one eye on their PI insurance which is ratcheting up and up. And as soon as that individual is making some kind of assessment as to fire performance the PI cover steps in and says no, you’re not permitted to do that. You can only say does this meet this particular requirement and you can demonstrate that if you’ve got a piece of paper that says it does, or doesn’t it. If it doesn’t then you cannot assess its performance.

  4. Considerations at installation stage

    4.a. Risk Assessment

    4.a.i Thorough risk assessment is essential to optimal installation.

    4.b. Installation

    4.b.i Mandatory installation accreditation should be implemented.

    4.b.ii Regular checking, inspection, commissioning and testing are essential to ensuring successful installation.

    4.b.iii Installers should use digital tools to ensure easy access installation guides.

    RICHARD 4 Considerations at installation stage. 4.b.i Mandatory installation accreditation should be implemented. I know we’ve got some people who are going to disagree with that, we’ve heard already. Does anybody else think that mandatory accreditation should be implemented? Or think it shouldn’t?

    ROY BUCKINGHAM I think it should.

    MARTIN FACKRELL I think it should as well. I’ve been on a construction site where the AOVs at the top of the stairwell were all shivs that had 5000 newton actuators on each side of it and one of them was missing. So someone had made a vent out of timber and painted it aluminium to look like metal, they’d made a smoke vent out of timber. That’s on one of my sites that I worked on, I was stunned. The things I’ve seen on construction sites is stunning. You wouldn’t get a gas engineer to work on stuff that something…you get a competent gas engineer and you get your MCB board signed off at your house and then you go and let, with respect, a carpenter put in a smoke control damper for life safety or a ductwork contractor that’s never even seen one is allowed to install one. That can’t be correct.

    COLIN NEWMAN I agree that we should have mandatory accreditation, but I think that accreditation needs to be robust and resilient. There are no end of accreditation programmes that I’ve seen where when you challenge someone that has been accredited and you go to their accreditation body and say clearly this isn’t right. Their answer is we don’t verify whether or not they’re up to the job, it’s whether or not they actually jump through the hoops we put in front of them. We don’t monitor that, we don’t oversee that, there is no process by which we can remove them from our accreditation register which is just a farce, there is no point in having it.

    MARTIN FACKRELL I’ve gone on training in my role as technical and managing director, on installation accredited courses and I’ve had to answer the questions wrong to give the people the answers they’re expecting. So if I gave them the correct answer I would have failed the course, but I had to answer them wrong to get a certificate. And I’ve got a little card to say I’m now accredited and trained and I had to answer the questions wrong, so I completely agree with you.

    RICHARD Well, then you get the situation where the team leader is accredited and he’s leading a team of ten people who are doing the installations and they’re not, but it’s only because he is.

    ALASDAIR PERRY It’s just something that’s really close to my heart because all of our installer members have to be third-party accredited. And in some cases I believe that can put people at a commercial competitive disadvantage in that you’re paying to go through all of the hoops. I know the third-party certification bodies that we work with, three in particular, the LPCB, FIRAS and IFC are very vigorous in the audits that they conduct of approved companies, they do remove them from the registers. we won’t have anybody in BAFSA as an installer member who is not third-party certificated and that needs to be the case across the industry, particularly when you deal with something like a sprinkler or other fire suppression system that’s a life saving system, it needs to be third-party accredited.

    STEVE NEILSON From my side of the things in the industry for 30 years as a contractor and a quantity surveyor in the world of fire safety and coming at it from a fire DNA point of view, I think certification accreditation is essential. There’s been so many good comments about aligning it financially for tender, aligning it for compliance checking. One of the guys earlier was talking about now replacing doors, therefore working to a BM Trada scheme and the approved of the ARTs, we’ve got a standing change of continuing to develop and better assets on our various sites. But I think what we’re missing is how do we record that? We can’t just take it for granted that contractor A is BM Trada and a fire door inspector is that or the passive fire inspector or whatever. I think we need to join the dots and systems like fire DNA let you embed everything digitally which ticks the box with legislation about 24/7 digitally which ticks the box with legislation about 24/7 digital access to what we have and all parties can feed into that. But from my point of view I think it’s essential.

    RICHARD Yeah, we’ve actually got a point there about installers using digital tools.

    JAREK WITYK I’m listening to a lot of this and we did mention checking competence, compliance, certification, project templates and so on. What I feel is missing is the safety measure of acceptance of information product certification or qualification. This is actually a wide problem in the industry, if the UK government is driving ISO 19650 as a process to deliver projects and they put responsibility for acceptance for the end client. But this is not regulated, there is no guidance, and no one takes responsibility for accepting information product or whatever. I think that’s very important and something should be done about it because you may get a wrong product, but someone accepted it and then this is just passed on down the line. And then no one else is checking it because everyone else downstream thinks it’s OK.

    RICHARD Is there anything else that e haven’t discussed that we should have? You’ll all get a copy of this with the additional notes on. It’s very much a process because there is a lot of input. We record all of our meetings and produce highpoint notes, anything anyone puts in the comments we include in that, but as you can appreciate it’s a mammoth task to actually then consolidate that into a coherent document. George, you’ve shared something.

    GEORGE What I was just going to show is this is the main BIM4Housing website and all of the recordings are on these sections here so you can watch these and also get highpoint notes for each one of the meetings. This is one where we’ve done a deep dive on all of these different asset types and for sprinklers, for example, we’ve got this which was done last year. So this is going through the detail of what a sprinkler system is. Alan Brinson has given us a lot of information on here, but also looking at risks and what do people do to sprinkler systems to stop them from working and then information about installation and things like this. So this is the key information that the expert team put together. That might be something that’s of interest, and we’ve got exactly the same for fire doors and smoke dampers and fire dampers etc. If you want to look at any of those please do so and if you want to contribute or change them please let us know.

Further Thoughts and Experiences from Our Experts
In their own words

On point 1.c

  1. They’ll put into their terms and conditions that you have to be open and honest and all that sort of stuff. And therefore, if you’re not providing them with some information about a potential risk, then when you go and claim on that they are in a position to be able to refuse it.
  2. I think it’s more the fact that the insurer should play a bigger part in helping people comply with their insurance requirements.
  3. I’ve only ever been asked to do a fire risk assessment by someone because their solicitor had advised, they’re trying to sell it, trying to rent it, you need to get a fire risk assessment. I’ve never had someone come and say my insurer is insisting that you get a fire risk assessment, so I think they could go a step further and insist in seeing certain documentation as part of that insurance, rather than wait for it to burn down and say we’re not paying out, but it is related to cost and how much things are insured for.
  4. Would it not be good if the insurers gave cost saving incentives to the clients whose buildings had passed risk assessments? If you incentivise, the insurance guys are the biggest people we have because they control the money. The control who gets paid when the building burns down and who doesn’t.

On point 1.a

It does not recognise that the system, product or component being design, selected & installed is often the key contextualising factor for the competency demand profile.  The sector’s thinking remains on the supply side (competency of organisation or individuals). Section comments:

  1. Training and Competence should be Competence and Competence Development & Testing (training is one method and not the only as key need for performance support and compliance checks e.g. before point of installation to ensure actor is competent and have the right information related to the selected or changed product.
  1. Competence not enough also about having the right information at right time and right mindset (see Su Butcher work).  It is also about the right duties (accountabilities and responsibilities) being allocated to right actors and fully traceability of this.  Organisations need to check their competency profiles of the actors against the duty regime.
  1. Good practice here would include on-going compliance checks against codes of practice and other guidance.  What about know-sharing on lessons learnt etc.?
  1. What about digital tools for competency and compliance mgt?
  1. See my first point..not just about competent for roles but also competent for duties allocated for activities (if in social housing you may be a multi-skilled operative and do an installation task not part of your core trade role)
  1. Good practice would include current competency profile of all actors

On point 1.a

  1. We’re at a stage where competence or knowledge is so low outside of certain individuals that in terms of designing and selecting products it’s just not there. This is what I was saying that early engagement with manufacturers, people have got to realise that if you’re dealing with the fire safety or the smoke control in the building how can you design and specify it if you don’t know how to check it and what you’re doing with it?
  2. But even if they are and they go on-site and they install something what usually happens is that a different trade will come later, and they’ll need to install something in place of that or next to it and they’ll alter it. And what’s been done then, the product isn’t right even if the person was competent. So we need to make sure the person that’s judging that is competent.
  3. There is an installer scheme that’s not mandatory, but its been recognised but the smoke control association. And whilst it’s not perfect it is actually starting to check on-site checks of installs, it’s more from the point of view of making sure that they’ve got the right equipment there and the company have gone through their process.
  4. Obviously with the new gateway changes we can’t start on-site next year without gateway 2 submission so the problem that we have now is that we’re tendering to contractors and as the client we need to show the competency to submit gateway 2. So that obviously comes down to PAS document and there is a document called a Flex document, so we’ve created a set of questions that go through all the characteristics and tender. It basically looks like it goes back to CDM, most contractors are doing it anyway so that they need to prove it in a different way…for high-risk buildings there’s a different Building Control body to sign all of this off. One part of it is we’ve drafted a whole load of competency questions that I can’t find anywhere, and I don’t think anyone has done, about new tender process, but what is really baffling at the moment is when you’re tendering on a design & build do you appoint the design team yourself as the client through a standard JCT? Do you do a PSA to appoint the design team? Or do you ask the contractor to do that?
  5. Perhaps we should have maintenance people in at the beginning as well to have a look at what product we’re going to need and how we’re going to use it in the end.
  6. The way we’re looking at it is that we’re getting the exact people on-site that we can, so we’ll have validation of not just the company, but the individual. We’ll have their qualifications, what they’re competent in and also digital evidence of what they’re sending as the evidence of the work that they’ve done.
  7. The competency questions are all out there on the PAS, the contractor competency, and then there is the Flex document.
  8. https://asfp.org.uk/page/ASFPCompetencyPathway

ASFP Competency Pathway - Association for Specialist Fire Protection

On point 2.b & 3.a

  1. They wouldn’t necessarily get involved in the case of smoke control dampers that I’m involved with because primarily the damper is a quite important component in a smoke and heat exhaust ventilation system, a naturally ventilated one or a mechanically ventilated one. And those systems tend to be designed and the components selected to suit the requirements of a fire strategy report. And I wouldn’t necessarily be involved with the selection of our equipment into a specific system. I can’t actually see how that would happen. All we can do, we can offer a DOP and we can back that up with a classification report on the testing that will let the specialist who we hope would be using our equipment to make the selection of the right product for his application. But I can’t recall ever being involved in or engaged with the client on this.
  2. It’s not engagement necessarily, it’s competency and learning about this stuff and not just assuming there is a solution to your problem. And there always has been because people have hidden it, and now we’re finding people can’t hide things for you. I don’t know if it’s engagement with, but it’s learning about the products and listening and building your own knowledge.
  3. I think we’d see a fair amount of early engagement in design phase for product specification to go onto detailed drawings. And then in terms of regular checking and inspection during construction, we have an app we provide to installers so that they can catalogue the installation phase of the products, or they can call our site services team and they can come and do a report as well. We’re supportive of regular collection of information on installation progress of the quality of install, it’s pretty big from a golden thread perspective in terms of handing over documentation that proves that what you’ve done is compliant with the building regulations.
  4. We hadn’t selected the contractor at that stage, we didn’t know who was going to be building it. the answer to that is you could get a consultant in.
  5. On early engagement the property owner / responsible person needs to ensure that they know the exact requirement the applicable product needs to carry and ensure the manufacturers product holds that accreditation.An example of this would be the UKCA mark on Fire Door sets. This is a requisite and is often overlooked and differs depending upon the location of the doorset. (Internal front door in flats as opposed to an external facing door to the elements)The coordination of design, to avoid conflicts is part of the role of the Principal Designer (Under CDM and BREAR)

On point 1.b

  1. The ASFP registration will link back to the competency levels and the training received to get to that level. the what is considered and how is also published

On point 3.b

  1. there is a system in play for UPIN - BSi identify
  2. Would there be a difference system for integrating this information for retrofit or FRA remediation projects ? Bearing in mind that most of our housing stock has not been digitally tagged.
  3. Should 3rd party testing organisations be leading on the standardisation of product description and definition?The CPA should be making progress on the standardisation (Lexicon) but its stalled.

Conclusion

Fire safety is a collective effort that involves competent individuals at every stage. By following these recommendations, we can help ensure the correct design, selection, and installation of fire safety products, contributing to a safer built environment.

CHAT

Irfan Metsec Installers should provide the evidence of the installation in the digital format along with the record of competent person who installed. This will help for traceability etc.