I have written previously about my dismay that it took the well documented tragic events of 2017 to make some people take the issue of resident safety seriously. Even now there are those who continue to cut corners or pay lip service where safety is concerned.
I genuinely believe it is going to take mandatory legislation and/or a very radical change to the building regulations, and how they are enforced, to finally make those for whom finance is the key driver in their business realise that other things are more important, and where resident safety is concerned, there is no room for ‘interpretation’.
As a specialist social housing repairs and maintenance contractor with nearly 30 years’ experience Mila Maintenance has always put the safety of those in whose homes we work first.
Resident safety and their wider well-being should always be the first consideration when looking at the specification of a contract – and its implementation – and I know many of the clients we work with have always held this view.
There are others however for whom there needs to be a period of re-evaluation. Based on the number and type of enquiries we have received in the past few months, there are clearly many landlords in a situation where the measures they have previously installed in good faith to keep their residents safe, fall short of what is required where windows and doors are concerned.
It is disappointing to see that landlords have spent money on goods and services in line with their duty of care to residents where safety is concerned, and yet have not been served well by many of their suppliers. This should not still be happening in a mature supply market, and we are seeing the results of the race to the bottom in terms of contract pricing and quality delivery, which we have all witnessed over the past 10 years or more. It must stop.
Specifications need to be clear in what they are asking for and need to be supported by unambiguous legislation and regulation which is not open to interpretation. Those bidding for works need to be fully and suitably qualified to carry out those works should they be successful, and the goods they supply need to be fully tested to meet the relevant standards.
This is especially the case where Fire doors are concerned. It is simply not good enough for a door slab, a lock, the glazing or any other components to meet the relevant test standards as individual items, it must be the case that all these elements are tried and tested together to ensure full compliance in every regard.
Quite rightly the installation of new fire doors has become a priority for many landlords in recent months, especially those with high rise living accommodation. For those considering the installation of new doors there are two main product options to choose from, FD30’s and FD60’s – literally a 30-minute guarantee against fire penetration, and a 60-minute guarantee. There is an increasingly vociferous lobby advocating that all fire doors should protect against fire for 60 minutes, and I will be surprised if this doesn’t come to fruition as a means of providing greater safety for residents in their high rise homes.
The final element when considering the installation of fire doors is to ensure that the installing company is fully accredited to do so. A fire door is different to any other kind of door and needs people who understand its technical differences to carry out the works. This is not the work for a multi-skilled general operative but is the work for specialist contractors.
There can be no more short cuts or reading between the lines of specifications or regulations when it comes to installing measures which directly impact the safety of residents – we all know the implications for failure.