FIREX 2017: Regulations must change following Grenfell Tower fire

Last month’s FIREX conference was attended by over 300 security and fire industry professionals. While there was a fantastic buzz at the event with organisations launching new products and discussing the latest developments in the industry, there was also a sombre overtone following the Grenfell Tower disaster.

Following a one-minute silence to commemorate the victims of the fire, there was a thought provoking debate where a panel of experts discussed the need to reassess building regulations as part of the inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire. Dennis Davis, of the Fire Sector Federation (FSF), said the industry was ‘creating the legacy for the next 50 years’ following the fire. Jim Glocking from the Fire Protection Association, added the industry was seeing ‘worrying trends associated with fires’ but was struggling to get its voice heard on these key issues. Steve Seaber from the British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association agreed pressing home the need for more regular reviews of legislation regarding building and construction – like in Australia where there is a regulation review annually.

Although the main debate was about legislation and safety measures, Niall Rowan of the Association for Specialist Fire Protection made reference to the claim the cladding was the potential cause of the blaze. He told the audience that although the panels were not permitted under some approval regulations, there was a sophisticated ‘desktop study’ which was not as rigorous as it should have been which meant the panels were used on the tower block. Rowan said there had been a lot of debate and supposition about the fire but that it was ‘tombstone legislation’ that had caused it.

Ian Bartle, Managing Director of Nobel Fire Systems, has worked in the fire industry for 30 years, many of which were spent as a firefighter. In the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire, Ian commented; “With a fire engineer’s ear, I listen to the reports on how the fire progressed so rapidly through a building that the day before was supposedly assessed as a safe place to live. This incident will resonate with firefighters worldwide as it will with colleagues in the fire engineering industry.”

With the formal inquiries and investigations about to begin, following the appointment of Sir Martin Moore-Bick, hopefully a cause of this terrible fire will be determined and steps will be taken to ensure this type of disaster never happens again and multi-occupancy high rise buildings are safe for people to live in, wherever they are and whoever owns them.

Find out more about FIREX 2017 here.