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New Mood at House of Lords Forum

Members attending the Federation’s Forum held in the House of Lords on 29 November 2018 found the mood very much upbeat and positive with good engagement across the sector. Following agreement at last September’s meeting the new chairman Michael Harper expressed his view that building on what was good from the past the opportunity now was to develop the Federation further by improving how we engaged with members, operated and delivered – more effective clear and focused action.

Echoing these views Executive lead Dennis Davis, who with other members of the ‘old’ Executive is now operating within a restructured FSF Board, explained how a transformation process had begun. Key aims were to build stronger external relationships so that members’ expertise on fire safety and fire response might be more effectively offered in a collaborative and coordinated way to government and other interested groups.

A recent policy development workshop organised by Jonathan O’Neill had already been held and this had confirmed the Federation’s appetite to have both a more proactive yet distinct voice going forward. Mike Wood, the lead on passive protection, pressed home this need to connect members. Andrew Lynch and Susan Lowrie, who are collectively looking into communications, added their thoughts on how this might evolve.

In the open discussion that followed emphasise on the importance of having competent people, where the FSF is already working hard with other organisations from the wider construction industry, and driving for effective third party certification, in all its various forms, was forcefully supported as being two foundations for Federation policy. A clear message reminding all present that third party certified and accredited people and products are at the heart of fire safety.

The mood became serious when it was reported the Federation’s first President Brian Robinson CBE had resigned. At this announcement no doubt many members present recalled with some nostalgia the efforts and endeavours made from the outset, in 2012 when the Federation was formed, by the then chairman as he sought to place ‘fire’ on the national agenda. Throughout all those trials and tribulations including most recently after the Grenfell Tower tragedy, this continued as we tried to harness members’ knowledge and energy to help improve fire safety – we all wish Brian well.

Finally, and with added optimism, the Federation was reminded to not only keep looking at fire safety but at the bigger picture of fire safety and fire response.