Chris Peters, Chief Design Manager, says that investment in fire safety is vital.
The dangers of fire are well understood, although steps to prevent it are often not taken.
The logic is that fire is a rare occurrence, and that preventative measures can be expensive.
In some cases, those preventative measures may not be a regulatory requirement, and don’t therefore need to be considered.
However, as we posted recently, fire isn’t a rare occurrence.
In the year to December 2019, fire and rescue services dealt with 157,156 fires. That’s over 430 fires a day.
Additionally, many of those fires were large or complex. In the same period last year, fire killed 237 people.
Failing to ensure comprehensive fire prevention strategies can therefore be a false economy. It can damage property and take away lives.
A good example happened at the end of May, when Harrington Junior School in Derbyshire was completely gutted by fire.
While the cause has yet to be definitively established, it was likely caused by hot work being carried out on the site. Hot work includes, for example, soldering and welding.
The fire has already led to calls for thermal imaging and better hot work training for construction workers.
A major insurance company said after the blaze that “hot work remains a constant threat, and more action is needed to tackle the problem.
“Although the construction industry has well-established safeguards in place, hot work fires are continuing to break out with alarming regularity.”
Installing thermal imaging on a site could cost as little as £400, and potentially prevent losses mounting to many millions of pounds.
Harrington Junior School was only being refurbished, so its loss also represents a major loss to the community.
It’s a false economy that we see all too often at Wrightstyle. For example, we have recently drawn attention to advanced glazing systems being downrated from 60 to 30 minutes.
It may not seem an important issue, but 30 minutes of integrity and insulation may not be enough in many buildings.
For example, it assumes that everybody in that building will evacuate the moment a fire alarm sounds. The evidence is that they don’t.
It also assumes that everybody is able to self-evacuate quickly, which won’t be the case for the elderly or infirm.
However, downgrading from 60 to 30 minutes can often be achieved within fire regulations, and is therefore perfectly legal.
What’s less excusable is that, from the examples we are aware of, this reduction in fire safety has been a cost issue.
Simply, it’s been about putting profit ahead of human lives and that, surely, must be wrong.
When it comes to hot work, maybe fire regulations should now make thermal imaging a mandatory requirement.
Additionally, if specific hot work training is found to be an issue, then more training should be required.
While our systems don’t need hot work to install, they do require hot work to, for example weld profiles or make welded surfaces smooth.
Our fabrication facility is a controlled environment and operates to the highest safety and fire standards. All of our staff are fully trained in every aspect of fire and personal safety, with regular refresher training.
In addition, every installer intending to work with Wrightstyle systems is strongly advised to undertake bespoke training at our facilities.
That allows us to offer complete and guaranteed quality, from design through fabrication to the finished system in place.
But that approach to complete quality takes investment, not cutting corners.
As the Derbyshire school fire underlines, cutting corners is not often the best commercial approach. It could also cost more than bricks and mortar.