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Association News: Regional News

Eastern Region - Norwich Centre of Excellence CPD Event

27 February 2020   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Jordan Sutton
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The first CPD Event of 2020 held at the Norwich Centre of Excellence took the form of a Seminar on the subject of fire safety and protection. 

The first presentation; A New Era in Fire Beckons was given by Michael Wadood, Past President of CABE and Southern Regional Chairman. Michael opened his presentation by touching briefly on the Association's recent confirmation that it is now a Licensed Member of the Engineering Council, and the route to CEng will shortly be open to Chartered members.

He moved onto the Grenfell Tower fire and the current situation in respect to the Inquiry. A resume of recent activities and issued Guidance included the Independent Review of May 2018 - Building a Safer Future, advice to owners of residential buildings with regard to Aluminium Composite Cladding, and recent improvement and updating Building Regulations in respect to Sprinkler Protection in September 2019. Michael then discussed the recent Government Circular on Fire Doors and the call for evidence on AD B. He touched on the publication of Phase 1 of the Public Inquiry regarding AD 7(2).

Examination of a number of fires predating Grenfell Tower, starting with that which occurred in Lakanal House in 2009 followed by others in April 2010, July 2010, November 2011 and January 2012 reinforced the regularity with which severe fires occur, resulting in loss of life. Michael then moved on to discuss the report of the All Party Parliamentary Group - Putting Consumers at the Heart of House-building issued in July 2016. This report recommended the creation of a new homes ombudsman, the right for buyers to inspect their property during construction, the preparation of comprehensive information packs, together with the drawing up of minimum standards for compliance inspections. Unfortunately these recommendations were not taken forward due to a lack of parliamentary time.

A further series of fires occurring in June, August and September 2016 and another in June 2017 resulted in an investigation by the BRE. They found that the Building Regulations and Approved Documents were working, but that disproportionate damage to property has been regularly attributed to a failure to meet the requirements of the Regulations and in many cases this failure related to poor design and workmanship.

Michael then turned to an examination of the Grenfell Tower fire in detail. The findings of Phase 1 of the Inquiry were published in its report issued on 31 October 2019, which contained 46 recommendations relating to evacuation and fire safety information, communication and command/control procedures within the London Fire Brigade, the regular checking of fire doors and lifts, provision of clear numbering of floors and cooperation between the emergency services.

The second phase of the Inquiry started on the day of the event. This will cover the design of the refurbishment scheme and the choice of materials, the testing regime of reaction of the materials in fire, the performance of fire doors, and the organisation and management of the London Fire Brigade. The Inquiry will also examine the effect of the width of stairs, the role of the gas and electricity supply in the development of the fire, and the effect of electrical surges.

Michael then turned to the recommendations of the report by Dame Judith Hackett - Raising the Bar, published in August 2019 and the setting up of the Competency Steering Group. This was followed by an examination of the findings of the Independent Review of Building Regulations issued in May 2018 which concluded that enforcement was not working effectively, and that guidance needs to be simpler. It recommended that identification of High Risk Premises, the provision of Responsible Persons in the design process, and of accurate records of the design for handover to those responsible for maintenance. The effect of value engineering should be properly assessed and there should full traceability of the design to enable duty holders to be held to account. Finally the review examined the role of tenants.

The Government response of December 2018 was then dealt with. The concept of the Responsible Person was taken forward together with the establishment of 'gateways' in the design process. Michael took members through the detailed content of each gateway. Finally the review examined whether the Health and Safety Executive should be responsible for enforcement of the Regulations rather than the Local Authority.

Michael then brought us further up to date by examining the Barking fire of June 2019 and the issue of the Advice Note for balconies to residential buildings, the Review of Sprinkler Provision in High Rise Buildings issued in September 2019, and publication of BS 8629:19 in November last year. He wound up his comprehensive presentation by examining the fire which occurred in student accommodation in Bolton, again in last November, and the document Improving Building Safety Standards which examined the effectiveness of fire doors, remediation of buildings with ACM cladding, a ban on combustible cladding, and provision of sprinkler systems issued in January this year. 

Finally, Michael reminded members that the call for evidence in respect to the ban on combustible cladding, but with the permission of combustible cavity trays, the allowance of laminated glass and further requirements in respect to the testing of floors and roof components is still ongoing.

After a break for lunch the second presentation entitled The Future of Fire Suppression was given by Eddie Sibley from iMist. Eddie introduced us to iMist and it's manufacturing facility in Hull.

He then went on to describe the system in detail with its STN 12 nozzle. This is activated at 68 Deg C through a fast response bulb. It is ceiling mounted and the supply pipework is permanently filled with water. Only the nozzle activated by the fire will operate, the remaining nozzles on the system will remain closed until the fire reaches them if it is not extinguished by the first to activate. It is the only system that is BS 8458:2015 compliant.

The nozzles are fed by flexible braided stainless steel pipework of 9.6mm i/d and this is easily adapted to accommodate changes in layout or extension. Eddie then presented a short video of the installation process.

He then turned to testing. A whole iMist system has been tested and has passed all 6 tests of BS 8458.

This was followed by a review of the principle of the fire triangle and how the iMist system works by displacing the oxygen and removing the heat. The water mist is bouyant and this has an advantage over the larger water droplets from a traditional sprinkler system. Eddie demonstrated this using another short video of an actual fire test showing the response of the system in the test cell. He confirmed the system works effectively in oil based fires.

iMist will design a system at plan preparation stage or make a site visit to enable the design of a retrofit system.

The pump for the system is usually fitted under the kitchen sink in domestic installations and in the plant room in larger residential premises. The discharge rate is very low in comparison to a sprinkler system and this minimises collateral water damage.

Eddie concluded his presentation by discussing maintenance services.

Questions from members included those on Legionella risks, installation costs as against sprinkler systems, and effectiveness against fires involving various materials.

Steve Cushion
Committee Member