Earlier this month, Tor Coatings were delighted to have the opportunity to host a Fire Protection for Social Housing seminar at Hotel Football in Manchester. The main objective of the morning seminar was to share best practices of risk assessment under the RRO to reduce the number of fire casualties and severe damages in the HMO and social housing sector.
‘Due Diligence under the RRO’
Presented by Simon Ince
Simon Ince, Training Manager at Frankham RMS, began the morning with an informative talk on due diligence under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order. His presentation detailed the current guidance of the RRO, as well as the importance of conducting fire safety risk assessments in a building. He provided a guide on selecting a competent Fire Risk Assessor using the government’s newly-published competency criteria, and addressed the advantages of using third party accredited systems that can assure performance and reliability.
Throughout his presentation, Simon referenced several case studies that exemplify the repercussions of fires in buildings, most notably the devastating Grenfell Tower fire, and how our approach to fire strategy in the social housing and HMO sector must continue to be reviewed and developed as a consequence. He went on to discuss the significance of Article 33 under the RRO; Article 33 can protect building managers and other responsible parties with a defence of due diligence, allowing them to prove that all reasonable precautions in accordance with the RRO had been exercised to avoid the commission of such an offence. Simon concluded his talk with a Q&A which opened up a thought-provoking discussion amongst delegates.
‘The history of rapid flame spread over painted surfaces’
Presented by Dr. Janet Murrell
Technical Director, Dr. Janet Murrell, was the second speaker of the morning with her presentation on the history of rapid flame spread over painted surfaces and the significance of correctly applied fire retardant coatings in communal areas. Janet discussed how poorly adhered paint on walls and ceilings can contribute to the rapid spread of fire in buildings and how thick layers of old paint can de-laminate rapidly, referring to cases such as the Morston Hospital fire. During the incident, flames rapidly spread through the hospital ward and 150 metres down the corridor in as little as just 3 minutes. Following investigation, the paint was found to have over 18 layers and burned extremely rapidly. Janet used chart comparing single vs. multi layer paint performance to emphasise the difference in flame spread.
Following this, Janet went on to demonstrate how to test good quality adhesion in walls using a simple cut process. She reiterated the importance of product certification and opting for Class 0, the highest performance classification.
‘The Tor Coatings approach to assessing and managing risk in communal areas & escape routes’
Presented by Ian Birch
Closing our seminar was Ian Birch, who delivered an excellent talk on the Tor Coatings approach to assessing and managing risk in communal areas & escape routes using the Torrex fire upgrading systems. Tor Coatings manufacturers the UK’s most comprehensive Class 0 fire protection coatings, allowing users to upgrade potentially dangerous existing multi-layer painted walls and ceilings. Ian demonstrated the effectiveness of the Torrex system to delegates by showing two videos that showed a rapid burning multi layered paint substrate treated with Torrex and one that had not been treated with Torrex. The difference was remarkable; the substrate that used Torrex was able to reduce the amount of heat released, significantly slowing down the rate of flame spread.
Ian talked through RRO compliance and the benefits of using a specialist paint manufacturer. As the only provider with a third party accreditation for communal area coatings under the Exova ‘Certifire’ Scheme, Tor Coatings are able to assure that the coating system and specification provided are always identical to the ones tested.
Thank you to all those who attended the seminar, and a special thank you to our guest speakers for delivering impactful presentations that raised some very vital fire safety issues for the HMO and social housing sector.