Federation Newsletter 3 - Winter 2018
01 December 2018
Forum -29th November
Held in the House of Lords and hosted by Jim Fitzpatrick MP. This was the first Forum attended by our new Chairman Michael Harper. In a change of format members received reports from all the newly installed Directors and then entered into an open discussion that ranged wide and injected a sense of optimism into how the Federation might move its agenda forward.
A clear view emerged on the importance of 3rd party certification for products and people. There was a word of caution that the current emphasis on building safety could distract from other important tasks. Despite the upbeat mood regret was noted too when members learnt of the first President’s resignation. Overwhelmingly the Forum closed with a renewed sense that progress on some big issues was underway and a good start in what was viewed by many as the next stage in the Federation’s development was underway.
Building Safety Programme
On the 11 December Director of the Policy and Advice Division Neil O’Connor met with Directors Jon O’Neill and Dennis Davis to discuss the MHCLG’s Building Safety Programme (BSP). The meeting was arranged at the MHCLG Marsham Street offices as part of a general getting to know each other’s organisations better.
Neil O’Connor explained the BSP two strand approach; one related to “Remediation” post Grenfell and part two the wider “System Reform” required to take forward the Hackitt report. He further explained that although these two parts were well developed, part two especially would be subject to the outcomes of the Grenfell Tower Public Inquiry and the Police investigation.
Welcoming the evident offer of assistance from the FSF the meeting closed with Neil O’Connor suggesting further meetings between MHCLG deputy divisional heads and FSF subject leads. These meetings were proposed to explore cooperation in more detail. This will be pursued with the objective of gaining opportunity to move to a greater level of access and involvement for FSF policy and technical advice
In discussion at the Forum there was considerable interest in how best to engage members in activities that enable them to explore their subjects of interest. At the same time there was a desire to help the FSF build consensus on those subjects of interest.
One subject raised was that of procurement where Alistair Brown has suggested that the FSF works to operate through the National Fire Chiefs Council Fire Commercial Transformation Programme and Home Office. Another area is that of consistent presence on standards and codes; with British Standards being a focus.
How we make this happen and involve all those who have an interest is a challenge, but a first step is a protocol to guide representatives. This would then backed up by a strong link through a Director and hence the Board to help keep in place the overall FSF perspective and priority for any work. This is seen as an area for development and members will be informed more as it progresses.
Grenfell Tower Inquiry
In the week of the 10 December, Phase 1 of the Inquiry closed with the Chairman explaining that currently there are a total of 598 core participants, of whom 568 are individuals, 10 government or institution bodies of one kind or another, and 20 commercial bodies. Over the last 12 months he added the Inquiry team has collected, sifted and disclosed over 20,000 documents not including many witness statements.
He further explained the next step is to examine the very significant body of evidence amassed and produce a report describing in appropriate detail what happened and it might be possible to make some recommendations without waiting for Phase 2.
Phase 2 involves examining in some detail the design and execution of the substantial building project, the regulatory framework, the role of the relevant authorities as well as the response by central and local government to the disaster. He concluded it unlikely that it will be possible to start Phase 2 hearings before the end of next year.
Industry Safety Steering Group (ISSG)
The ISSG held its first meeting on the 3 December. Dennis Davis presented the FSF work’s so far on competency and involvement in responding to the Hackitt report’s call for industry to take a responsive lead.
In a letter afterwards Dame Judith noted FSF are involved in a number of the competence Working Groups and are engaging widely with others in industry. She stated “This is the only way to ensure that proposals are industry wide and are not fragmented. I would encourage you to continue working across the Working Groups to bring a coherent approach to building safety”.
She further added “One of the measures of success in the new culture will be when we see real evidence of people working together, focussed on the delivery of safe buildings, not protecting territory or ignoring the views of those with important knowledge and expertise. The Industry Safety Steering Group welcome your approach to developing a common foundation of education in fire safety”.