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June 21, 2018

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Fire Safety

Tall building fire safety management essential in wake of Grenfell

Chartered fire engineer Russ Timpson has affirmed management in tall building fire safety was imperative in the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster.

Speaking at Firex International, which is running alongside Safety & Health Expo, Timpson said: “Grenfell will shape us for some time to come and it will make a difference and confirm the importance of management of these type of buildings.”

Previously a firefighter of nearly 20 years, Timpson underlined the importance of strong building management in preventing similar disasters. “Any building can be kept safe if it’s managed correctly, he said. “It’s the biggest measure for existing buildings to see if they are safe or not. It’s critical.”

He explained that an increase in high rise buildings will ultimately influence the way we live. “There’s going to be 400 new tall buildings in London in the next four years, additional to what we have now. The way we work and the way our society works is going to change fundamentally.”

He also expressed concern that issues such as emergency lights malfunctions and arson risks were being given to security managers, engineering managers or health and safety managers; people who, he said, “are not competent to do it”.

Pushing his point, he asked the audience if illicit smoking in the workplace counted as arson. Delegate hands stayed down but eyebrows were raised when Timpson revealed the sentencing of a man whose cigarette caused a fire at his non-smoking workplace. “Arson is not just about intent, it’s about the degree of recklessness,” he explained.

Summarising, Timpson asked for a re-definition of what constitutes a tall/high-rise building; the integration of fire detection and alarm systems that have the resilience and flexibility to change evacuation strategies as circumstances dictate; and a competent fire safety manager to oversee high-rise buildings.

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