The importance of correctly maintaining building fire safety systems

Alex Wild 2016

Alex Wild
Senior Consultant, Assurity Consulting
14th June 2019

Following this week’s fire at a block of flats in Barking, East London, on Sunday night, news reports have been circulating across the media accusing those responsible for managing the block of not maintaining fire alarms and sprinkler systems with claims that complaints from residents who raised fears about fire safety systems being ignored. Some reports suggest that despite being repaired, the fire alarms did not sound during the blaze.

Questions have also been raised about the external cladding of the building, in this case being constructed of timber that residents had been reassured was treated to enable it to have a 30-minute fire rating. Some eye witness accounts, however, suggest that the material was engulfed in flames within a matter of minutes. Happening almost two years to the date of the Grenfell Tower fire, no doubt these claims will again put those responsible for the construction and ongoing building management firmly under the spotlight.

Thankfully, this fire resulted in no one being harmed and no fatalities, let us not forget, however, that this has left families who resided here without a home with many losing their life’s possessions. It also raises fresh concerns that fires such as this could easily result in a repeat of the disaster at Grenfell, due to failures of building materials and poor fire safety controls.

Bearing this in mind, it is perhaps a timely reminder to everyone who manages tall buildings, whether they be residential or commercial, of the importance of correctly maintaining building fire safety systems in a good state of repair and following up on any faults identified on service reports, something our fire risk assessors often find is missed. Regular checks on fire safety measures should also be part of your ongoing building management regime to ensure compartmentation isn’t compromised and possible sources of combustion are not present close to the building.