In the proposed changes to the building regulations discussed in our previous blog, there are two new roles connected with building safety. One is of the dutyholder, who takes responsibility for the design and construction of the systems that will make the building safe. The other is the accountable person, who is responsible for ensuring that systems are maintained properly.
This is a vital role as there are so many things that can go wrong. These include:
* Poor initial installation of equipment
* Lack of testing/maintenance and/or no record
* Inappropriate operation setup
* System disconnected or not reset after fault or activation
* Inappropriate equipment, e.g. Non fire rated cables.
* Batteries well past shelf life
* Improper use of equipment, e.g. smoke extract used for day-to-day ventilation.
* Repairs not always taken up by customers.
* Recommendations of battery changes and basic maintenance not taken up.
* Misuse of smoke equipment by tenants, e.g. fire alarm disconnected, smoke detectors removed, smoke ventilators forced open.
* Incorrect advice from unqualified maintenance contractors.
* Confusing a smoke test with a service. A successful smoke test will show that your system is working now, but there may be elements within it that are not functioning properly, or are reaching the end of their life. Regular servicing is essential.
It is clear that proper maintenance requires awareness and the acceptance that you need to call a skilled person to carry it out. Too often in the past the importance of this has been overlooked. Now, in addition, we can also recognise the importance of the accountable person who has direct responsibility to residents during operation.
In addition there is an enhanced role for residents. The responsible person should communicate with residents and listen to their concerns – at Grenfell many concerns were expressed and ignored, with tragic consequences. At the same time, there is a responsibility for residents to behave in a manner that does not contravene the safety of the building.
These changes should help to end a culture of buck passing or of simply ignoring issues, either because they are inconvenient or out of ignorance. They should save lives.
If you want to make sure your systems are following the latest maintenance regulations, talk to one of our service specialists today.