5 Key Takeaways from Our Fire Roundtable at The Gherkin

There is no denying the fact that prevention of fire in high-rise residential buildings is the need of the hour. The 2018 report by Dame Judith Hackitt too emphasised on the matter and for good reason. Sapphire Balconies strives to create safe structures. Keeping that in mind we recently held a roundtable event. Its main theme was ‘Reducing Fire Spread in High-Rise Residential Buildings’. The conference was marked by the attendance of notable industry leaders and the objective was to initiate fruitful discussions that led us to some really interesting insights.

Here are some of the key points raised during the meeting.

The Susceptibility of the Supply Chain

One of the key points that was raised, was that there is an immense need for a higher level of quality control and supply chain traceability. A suggestion that was floated around to achieve the same recommended that management should photograph everything at every stage so as to have a complete record of construction, visually. This is quite similar to our Sapphire Passport App.

Craig Wells, a specialist at the event from QuelFire, emphasised the same. “These events enable us to share the problems that are common across all parties and the supply chain.”

A Universal Platform

In the words of one of the industry specialists present at the roundtable,

“There were various views/perspectives from different parts of the industry. It was an opportunity to voice frustration with the regulatory environment (i.e. poor quality of regulation), and a chance to focus on how to achieve consistent quality.” – Steve Sands at calfordseaden.

“The industry faces the challenge of having a single voice,” Will Sloan from McLaren, another expert, added.

The roundtable conference opened professionals’ eyes to the fact that more such universal platforms can lead to suggestions and actions that can curb such disasters in the future. The roundtable germinated a collaborative approach which the leaders encouraged as a way to move forward.

The Common Challenge

“The aim is to achieve regulations that work and are consistent. We have to focus on providing the best value rather than the lowest cost. We also have to provide innovative solutions to new challenges,” said Steve Sands from calfordseaden

This is a common challenge that the industry faces commented William Sloan from McLaren. However, with more such roundtables where like-minded professionals meet to form a comprehensive and collated thought, the challenge will be taken headfirst.

The Ministerial Affairs

Another crucial aspect that was raised at the meeting was the inefficiency of the advice notes issued by the Ministry for Housing and the local government, which undergo constant amendments. The need of the hour is to create a cohesive document which is comprehensible by everyone including the resident, to bring clarity to the legislation.

The Risk and its Effective Communication

No market is static. In fact, dynamism is the way to survive, for it encourages the basic tenet of evolution. Our industry too requires innovation from time to time. However, with it comes the risk and the accountability for the same. While the risk is more prevalent in traditional builds, some builders are trying to reduce the same by using highly-prefabricated systems such as concrete walls that come with factory-built fire stopping. That being said, the advice notes (as mentioned in the previous point) and poor user activity were key points of discussions. Communication of every risk, inherent or impending, should be done. The emphasis was just on the risk, but also on the onus of it.

The enriching roundtable led to some interesting conclusions. To date, the diverse industry has never been able to narrow down the challenges. However, industry experts surely managed to do that.

While calfordseaden emphasised on achieving regulations at work, as mentioned above, another industry expert from L&Q drew attention to the three principles of safety, clarity, and progress.

One voice, one place, one platform — hopefully, the practice of conducting more such events and roundtables would curb such hazards in the future. We have managed to scratch the surface with this one, but it’s a long road ahead.