Following the tragic event at Grenfell in 2017 when 72 people lost their lives, and hundreds lost their homes, the UK Government set up the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety, led by Dame Judith Hackitt.
This has led to major changes to legislation dealing with fire and fire safety.
The main theme throughout all legislation is the need for a rigorous management system. As a result BS 9997 was written by a panel of experts from both the public & private sector to specify the requirements for an organisational fire risk management (FRM) system.
Since 2005 the main legislation relating to fire has been the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 [FSO].
The events of 2017 forced a complete review of this and other related legislation such as the Housing Act 2004. Two new pieces of legislation –The Building Safety Act, enacted 28th April 2022, and the Fire Safety Act 2021 [FSA] - impose a much more demanding and holistic approach to managing fire risk.
It is clear individuals and organisations will face prosecution if they fail to comply.
British Standard BS 9997:2019 ensures that organisations are meeting the requirements of all relevant fire safety legislation. It allows organisations to satisfy the mandatory standards around current and future fire legislation.
The Government has stated that “the foundation for delivering this approach [the effective planning, organising, control, monitoring and review of all measures in place for fire safety] is to apply a Safety Management System. A safety management system is a systematic approach to managing safety, including organisational structures, accountabilities, policies and procedures.
Safety Management Systems improve performance and deliver better safety outcomes. They promote a systematic approach where potential safety risks are proactively identified and managed on a continuous basis and provide the framework for effectively managing and assuring the continued performance of relevant control and safety measures. They will play a significant role in mitigating risks and helping to ensure residents are, and can feel, safe in their homes”.
As is always the case when something goes wrong, the first thing a regulator will always ask is “what did you do to try to prevent this happening?”. As can be seen above the Government’s own proposed answer to the question is by having a management system in place.
The main aspects of the new regime are:
The link between fire safety, and wider heath and safety management is clear, as the legislation for both overlap considerably. Integrating your BS 9997 system with ISO 45001 makes perfect sense.
The Government has stated they are “ensuring that the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (the FSO) and the new, more stringent regulatory regime for higher-risk buildings provided in the Building Safety Act work effectively together”.
Effectively, the legislation mentioned in the summary means the following are included:
Landsec owns and manages more than 24,000,000 sq. ft. (2,200,000 m2) of commercial property, from London offices and high street shops to major shopping centres and out-of-town retail parks. At 31 March 2022 the company's property portfolio was valued at £12.02 billion.
Being one of the first FSTE 100 companies to appoint a Director of Fire Safety, they recognised that whilst fire risk management was being done to a high standard already, they wanted to have the right systems, processes and operational control in place to reassure all their stakeholders, not least residents and the general public using their retail outlets, that everything possible is being done to protect them from fire.
Set the task by the Board of achieving certification to BS 9997 by the end of 2022, Fire Safety Director Billy Cunningham (pictured to the right) chose to work with Episode to ensure this happened.
Already certified to IS) 45001, Episode worked closely with Billy, and Landsec’s Health & Safety Manager, Olivia North, to integrate the new fire risk management system with the ISO 45001 system.
Landsec’s operational control of fire safety was already exceedingly robust and comprehensive. The Landsec/Episode Team were able to carry out a detailed gap analysis (of both BS 997 and ISO 45001), and with a focus on what would work best for Landsec, establish a compliant system.
It was only by utilising the expert guidance and experience of Episode that Thurston Group was able to attain certification within an exceptionally challenging time frame. We therefore offer our thanks to Episode Ltd. For the diligent and professional services provided. We also look forward to working with them again soon and would not hesitate to recommend their services."
Peter Spieight, Senior Divisional Director, Thurston Group, Wakefield
Roger's support was invaluable in terms of gap analysis, recommendations for improvement, and facilitation of the certification process. I would strongly recommend Roger to any organisation wishing to develop or improve its management systems, in a way which minimizes bureaucracy, and focuses on best serving the needs of the organization.
Gary Evans, Flour Corporation, Abu Dhabi
Harvey Mills, Managing Director, Forge Recycling, Leeds.
If Sandy hasn’t already updated you we are delighted to say we passed the transition audit for ISO 9001 and ISO 14001. Sandy did an absolutely fab job and all credit to her, we have loved having both of you here it’s been a pleasure.
I have had a brief chat with Morgan[the CEO] about the next steps and how we manage things going forwards. Morgan will be in touch with you soon about this and getting Episode/Sandy back in on a regular basis. Once again many thanks for everything and especially to Sandy!!
Morag Tearne, HR and Health & Safety Manager, H. Slingsby plc, Shipley
Episode is always prepared to go the extra mile. When in a tight spot the lead consultant carried out an audit for us at very short notice (on a Sunday afternoon) to keep us on track. What is important to us is the advice they give us is practical and tailored to us. The quality of output Episode produces is very high.
This has resulted in us having a multi-year managed service from Episode so as a company we know our ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and ISO 45001 integrated system is up to date and working for us.
Gareth Walters, Financial Controller, Sports Turf Research Institute, Bingley.
When asked by Episode what three things they do well, and what three things they could improve upon, my answers were:
1. Client Communication, responded to queries very quickly
2. Requirements of the standard were communicated in a simple manner.
3. Assistance from initial implementation to date of assessment was very good.
I can honestly there is nothing I feel they should improve upon.
Paul Hunneybell, Operations Manager, Fenland Fire Contracts Limited, Luton
The consultant worked with the team in Scott Bader Middle East Ltd. to completely re-engineer our Integrated Management System incorporating ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001. Until then we were slaves to the ISO audits, with the systems not adding much value beyond certification. Now we have a business management system that really works for us and is truly integrated into our operations. We were also successfully re-certified along the way.
John Kemp, CEO Scott Bader Middle East, Africa and Asia
The consultant really focused on making our systems and processes work better for us, not just help us comply with ISO 9001. He was able to work with Department Heads and Senior Management to shape their strategic thinking about quality and business objectives without telling them what they had to do because the standard says so.
Karim D'Alessandro, HSE Director, Shelf Drilling Inc.