Concerns beginning to rise over owners’ attitudes towards life safety in buildings

New research from life safety systems manufacturer Hochiki Europe suggests that European installers are becoming increasingly concerned about their customers’ understanding of life safety systems and regulation. The survey sheds light on some worrying findings, including more than 60% of respondents reporting that they visit at least one site each month where the Responsible Person for fire safety is unknown.

Almost a third (32%) of installers questioned also reported regularly encountering properties which had inappropriately positioned or outdated life safety equipment, while more than a third of installers claimed that up to 80% of those sites they visit don’t comply with current fire safety regulations.

The research also examined attitudes towards life safety maintenance. According to the report, nearly 70% of European installers think their clients view the upkeep of their life safety systems as a ‘tick-box’ exercise, with just 11% viewing it as an essential process that safeguards building users.

At the same time, Hochiki Europe’s survey also found that two-fifths (40%) of installers say their customers are not even aware of the legal requirements for system maintenance. In line with this finding, respondents reported that, on average, 55% of fire detection logbooks and 64% of emergency lighting logbooks were not up to date, despite it being a legal requirement for them to be so.

Common maintenance issues

Hochiki Europe’s research also examined the most common fire safety and emergency lighting maintenance issues that installers face when visiting properties. The Top Five fire safety maintenance issues encountered by installers in 2017 were:

*Change of building/room use without correctly altering the fire system (50%)

*Inadequate logbook records (43%)

*The original installer didn’t install the best system for the environment (40%)

*Detectors need cleaning (32%)

*Detectors need replacing (26%)

The Top Five emergency lighting maintenance issues encountered by installers in 2017 were:

*Broken/faulty lamps (44%)

*Inadequate logbook records (42%)

*Inadequate emergency lighting signage (39%)

*Batteries not charged in emergency lighting units (35%)

*Inadequate lux levels (25%)

Tracy Kirk, general manager of sales and marketing for Hochiki Europe, commented: “Having a correctly designed safety system in a building that has been installed by a qualified engineer is vital when it comes to protecting lives. A fire detection device or emergency lighting unit can only safeguard occupant safety if it’s in working order.”

Kirk added: “This year’s installer study has resulted in some stark findings for the industry and sheds light on serious gaps in terms of our customers’ attitudes towards life safety in Europe. It’s clear that there needs to be an increased focus on educating duty holders throughout our built environment on how important it is to look after life safety systems. Those with the responsibility of system upkeep should also ensure that they’re always up to speed with the latest legislation and regulations in order to keep building occupants safe.”

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

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