Editor
09 March 2022
IN RESEARCH presented by BAFE and NAPIT, data collated over the last decade (ie from 2010-2011 through until 2020-2021) for England, Wales and Scotland records the “unsettling” occurrence of 424,464 dwelling fires. These fires resulted in almost 82,000 non-fatal casualties and close to 3,000 deaths.
In more recent statistics made available by Fire and Rescue Services nationwide, there’s clearly an ongoing issue with either high failure rates – or a complete absence – of domestic smoke alarms. In England alone during 2020-2021, there was a 28% failure rate of smoke alarms (ie alarms that failed to operate or were not present). This failure rate rises to 39% in Scotland and increases even further to encompass 50% of all fires in Wales.
The nationwide ‘Fire Kills’ campaign launched by the Government underlines the fact that individuals are around eight times more likely to die from a fire if they don’t have a working smoke alarm in their home. Both BAFE and NAPIT cannot stress enough the importance of having suitable life safety systems in place.
Provisional data from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities reports that close to 176,000 new build dwellings were started in England alone during the previous 12 months from year ending 2021 (July-September). BAFE and NAPIT assert that it’s “of key importance” the housing development sector complies with the Building Regulations and relevant Approved Documents when providing appropriate domestic fire detection and alarm systems. These systems must be installed by competent contractors.
Competency focus
In August last year, BAFE launched its latest competency scheme in conjunction with NAPIT. Designated DS301, this provides a route for contractors to demonstrate their competence for designing, installing, commissioning and maintaining Grade D fire detection and fire alarm systems in domestic premises.
DS301 supports the appropriate British Standards and working Best Practice, most notably the latest iteration of BS 5839-6 (the Code of Practice for the Design, Installation, Commissioning and Maintenance of Fire Detection and Fire Alarm Systems in Domestic Premises).
Justin Maltby-Smith, managing director of BAFE, commented: “This information clearly outlines it’s extremely important that any work on Grade D fire detection and fire alarm systems is performed in compliance with the appropriate and current regulatory and competency documents. Having suitable systems in place will assist in alerting residents as quickly as possible to any emergency situation, allowing for a safer evacuation and affording the Emergency Services more time to mitigate any damage.”
Maltby-Smith added: “The housing sector has a great responsibility to use competent contractors, which is why the BAFE DS301 Scheme was developed. The latter will clearly help in evidencing this competency. We must not lose sight of the fact that these are people’s homes we’re talking about. Everyone should feel safe and be safe in their own home and also be confident in the safety systems that have been installed.”
Real threat
Frank Bertie, chief technical officer at NAPIT, added: “These statistics show the risk to life posed by fire is a very real threat. NAPIT is proud to be leading the way with the introduction of the new DS301 Scheme in conjunction with BAFE to provide homeowners, housebuilders, management companies and specifiers alike with confidence that the contractors whom they use are appropriately qualified, competent and assessed.”
Bertie concluded: “Registered members on the NAPIT DS301 Scheme have demonstrated their competency for designing, installing, commissioning and/or maintaining Grade D fire detection and fire alarm systems in domestic premises. Correctly installed fire detection systems undoubtedly help to save lives and must be considered a priority in all homes.”
*The BAFE DS301 Scheme (for the design, installation, commissioning and maintenance of Grade D fire detection and fire alarm systems in domestic premises) is available for application/assessment via NAPIT: www.napit.org.uk/schemes/BAFE-DS301-Domestic-Fire-Alarm-Scheme.aspx
**The BAFE/NAPIT infographic download and data/information sources are available on the BAFE website at www.bafe.org.uk/ds301-infographic
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