ASSA ABLOY Opening Solutions UK & Ireland is advising all practising fire safety professionals on the importance of properly certified hardware and training following warnings from experts in fire safety law that they may now be deemed responsible for any breaches.
Liability for fire safety breaches is being increasingly pushed down from building owners and occupiers to those that have been consulted, assessed and advised on the appropriate fire safety solutions for a site. Should these products fail to perform as expected during a given episode then those professionals will be held accountable, and could potentially even be prosecuted.
ASSA ABLOY Opening Solutions UK & Ireland believes that this issue will be a real game-changer for the industry, with safety and security consultants, architectural ironmongers and merchants all set to be deemed responsible.
Only recently, a representative from leading law firm Russell Cooke LLP cited a growing trend for building owners to hold suppliers responsible for a lack of suitable fire risk assessments and the use of inappropriate materials and products. Back in 2014 – and for the first time ever – a risk assessor was sent to prison for nine months for a breach of Health and Safety rules. It’s abundantly clear, then, that accountability surrounding fire safety will fall to the supply chain more and more in the future.
David Hindle, head of door control sales at ASSA ABLOY Opening Solutions UK & Ireland, explained: “We believe this issue will increasingly affect the entire industry. From architectural ironmongers that might be selling product with little or questionable certification through to merchants providing hardware that might not be fit for purpose and consultants potentially not carrying out the right risk assessments for their clients, the liability for fire safety in buildings will fall to professionals in the industry. After all, they should be the experts on this matter.”
Hindle continued: “It’s therefore vital that all of these groups have the right accreditations in place to meet these demands. Relevant schemes include Warrington Certification’s FIRAS Installer Certification, BM TRADA’s Q-Mark Fire Door Installation and the Guild of Architectural Ironmongery’s diploma. It’s also vital that architectural ironmongers, merchants and consultants have a comprehensive understanding of the legislation covering fire safety matters in and around buildings, such as Approved Document B, BS EN 1634 and BS 476. Only by combining this specialist industry knowledge with recognised accreditation can professionals truly hope to advise on and specify the best fire safety products.”
In conclusion, Hindle asserted: “We predict that we’ll be seeing many more instances where professionals will be held accountable for any breaches around fire safety. As a result, it’s critical that those present throughout the supply chain ensure products are certified and that they have the correct training and qualifications to be able to advise their customers on the most appropriate fire safety solutions.”