Fire Safety – What do Companies Need to do Differently?

Following the Grenfell Tower fire in June 2017, most organisations will be asking themselves what they need to do differently – or if they need to do anything differently – when it comes to fire precautions and the health and safety of their buildings.

Many organisations who don’t operate in tower blocks, or who are not residential landlords, may feel that stringent fire precautions don’t affect them. But in fact, the Grenfell Tower disaster illustrates some very serious points.

External Cladding Systems and Basic Fire Prevention

Although there is a lot of discussion about external cladding systems and fire spread, it is sadly possible to achieve a similar type of disaster to Grenfell in any sizeable building by ignoring basic fire precautions.

Businesses must also seriously consider their landlord responsibilities. No doubt most will already be addressing issues, such as looking at external cladding systems, and checking that samples and materials have been routinely and robustly tested.

We know that action is being taken in those areas where there are similar external cladding systems, but organisations need to widen their focus on more than just their external cladding – whether they have them or not, or what type they are. The key issue organisations must check is that their basic fire precautions are sound.

Simple, basic solutions include:

  • fire doors being kept clear and closed
  • exits routes available and properly maintained
  • fully trained staff
  • controlled ignition sources
  • effectively maintained fire detection alarms and sprinkler systems.

Effective Compartmentation

Additionally, in larger buildings, the key to fire safety is effective compartmentation. That means splitting the building up into protected routes, with protected walls and other areas.

It is all too easy to compromise protected walls by drilling holes through them and not making good. Other compromises include damaged fire doors not being immediately repaired, or partitions being removed. All these things can lead to disaster in the event of a fire.

The Address in Dubai

There was an interesting parallel in Dubai on New Year’s Eve, 2015. A luxury hotel called The Address – a very large multi storey building much higher than Grenfell Tower – had 3,000 people in it. An external fire started and spread through the cladding in a very similar way. But all 3,000 people escaped without a single death and only 17 injuries largely because the inherent fire precautions and the protection of the stairwell, staircase and escape routes were working properly.

It’s crucial to bear in mind that a combination of issues of rapid fire spread and poor internal precautions can lead to disaster, whereas if those things are up to a good health and safety standard, and people are well drilled and well rehearsed, the likelihood of disaster is considerably reduced.

Quadriga can help you with your fire safety precautions. Click here to watch our short video. If you need any help and advice over how your building’s fire protection could be improved, please call Quadriga on 0118 929 9920 or click here to email us.

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