Assembly point podcast logo

In the latest episode of Assembly Point, FPA director of operations Howard Passey talks to Lewis Ramsey, caretaker manager at BAFE to examine the key issues and areas to consider when looking at fire risk management in buildings that are occupied by vulnerable persons.

Howard and Lewis also explore the criticality of active and passive fire systems being suitable for purpose, installed correctly, and that their subsequent maintenance and testing is undertaken by an accredited third party.

Lewis, who formerly served as assistant chief fire officer at Scottish fire and rescue, began the discussion by drawing attention to “less obvious or hidden” elements of risk, including the renovation history and the  repurposing of a building over time, which are “key” in considering the overall risk involved, before referencing anxieties around how modern methods of construction in new builds are policed. Lewis also called for constant appraisal and review of systems and processes to ensure evacuation, saying “you can't sit your hands once you've done it.”

“I would say that the type of resident overlaid with the type of property is a multiplying effect on risk. So, in other words, if you’ve got vulnerable people in a poor-quality building, then the risk is just growing exponentially.”

Howard then posed the question of what needs to be considered to ensure that an adequate evacuation or fire safety plan is in place, in terms of a fire risk assessment process, with the speakers agreeing on an approach that factors in human, building, and environmental factors equally.

The discussion then moved to the Rose Park care home fire, which Lewis attended, and the principal lessons learned, including the need for a proper evacuation plan, evacuation strategy, and fire safety management. The need for robust and resilient planning is front and centre again in the conversation here, with recommendations to “go beyond what you could expect” and to plan for the worst to remain resilient.

“For me, it would be criminal if that plan is created and stuck in a lever arch file and stuck in an office for somebody to look at once a year. They really need to be on top of the plan, and they need to test it. And they need to ensure that it will work – it’s about people, environment, and the building. And if any one of the three things change, then the plan is useless.”

The conversation wraps up with a speculative point, with Howard asking Lewis what legislative measures and regulations he thinks will be taken in the next five years to ensure vulnerable people never face another tragedy like the Rose Park fire. In response, Lewis called to “declutter and simplify” existing legislation, and “make the routes to competence much, much easier.” Lewis also voiced an anxiety that “the fire sector is kind of largely forgotten until something important happened, or something tragic happened.”

To hear the discussion, download the latest episode of Assembly Point from:

Assembly Point is part of the Know Your Building campaign from the FPA.