Comprehensive risk assessments delivered to over 2,000 properties
Genesis Housing Group is one of the most diverse housing groups in the UK, owning or managing more than 40,000 homes across London and the South East for tens of thousands of people. In November 2009 a contract was awarded to the FPA fire advisory services department to conduct fire risk assessments of all Genesis 2,400 housing properties.
With such a large number of properties to survey, it was necessary to prioritise those buildings deemed to be ‘higher’ risk. Following discussions between FPA and Genesis, the following priorities were established:
1. Sheltered housing accommodation;
2. General needs properties, four storeys and above
3. Low-rise general needs properties.
The FPA was set a challenging timescale for completion of the fire risk assessment project; following the initial stage of assessing sheltered housing accommodation, all general needs properties were to be completed within a 12 month period. In order to resource the volume of work up to 15 fire safety consultants worked on the project; as such, maintaining consistency of reports was one of the key factors to be controlled by the FPA head office team. To achieve this, only two members of staff checked the quality of the reports prior to them being issued to the client.
Another issue presented by the project has been access to the properties. Whilst the sheltered housing premises have staff on site, access to the general needs blocks has been more problematic; often re-visits have been required, and consultants have had to work closely with Genesis property managers to arrange suitable dates for surveys.
From Genesis’ perspective, their project management has been carried out by their in-house building services division. Regular project meetings have been held to report progress, discuss the outcomes of the fire risk assessments, tackle areas of difficulties and to keep the challenging schedule on track.
Once fire risk assessment reports have been through FPA’s quality assurance process and delivered to Genesis, there has been the job of acting on the findings and implementing the recommendations. This has been carried out in a systematic, prioritised way, with ad-hoc support from FPA team members when ever requested.
All fire risk assessments have been successfully completed, and where immediate improvements have been identified they have been acted upon. The next stage will be to monitor improvement works, and to inspect the works being carried out to ensure that they are as envisaged by the consultant. Reviews will also be carried out on an ongoing basis.
Adam Kiziak, FPA Manager Fire Advisory Services
"FPA were pleased to be entrusted with such a challenging contract and delighted to have delivered on time, within budget whilst maintaining the high standards that FPA is proudly known for. Over the last year, FPA and Genesis have developed a close working relationship that we hope to maintain long into the future."
Clinton Rae, Genesis Housing Group
"Following our comprehensive tendering process in which specific criteria had to be met, the FPA was awarded the contract to undertake Genesis’ fire risk assessment programme. The programme was prioritised according to perceived risk, starting with supported housing because of the vulnerability of the customers, then general needs, initially focusing on properties four storeys and above. The FPA were set an extremely tight deadline of over 2000 properties to assess within an 18 month period. The response from the FPA was fantastic; up to 15 assessors were tasked with this and by liaising directly with the Property Managers, arranged mutually beneficial appointments for access. This ensured that the deadline was met.
Steven Mills, Genesis Housing Group
"During the programme, monthly progress meetings were held with the FPA, which the LFB regularly attended . As the enforcing authority, this was beneficial to the LFB as they were kept updated on the progress of our programme at all times. In addition to fire risk assessments, we have often called upon the FPA to provide us with advice on a number of other issues and they have accommodated our requests without question. These have ranged from providing advice regarding the provision of fire blankets in general needs kitchens to reviewing a fire strategy for a 43 storey tower block that is being developed.
We manage a number of contracts covering a wide range of disciplines and it is reassuring to know that the FPA is always available for information and guidance in relation to fire safety."