Guilty until proven innocent
That is the reality in the unfortunate event of a fire in a building that you manage, when it comes to the subsequent investigation.
So how do you prove your innocence? The answer is simple. You will need to produce a file of evidence to show that you have maintained all the fire protection equipment according to the British standards, or that you have outsourced to a contractor and that contractor can produce the evidence on demand, that each piece of equipment has been maintained properly. The actual process and record keeping to produce that file of evidence however is not so easy.
Relying on a fire test certificate to show that everything has been done to ensure fire safety is not an option and does little to prove you have met your obligations. You need to be able to show without a shadow of a doubt that everything has been tested – at what service level and frequency, what failure’s (if any) were identified on any piece of equipment, what remedial steps were taken to rectify the failure and how the risks are minimised. Supporting evidence helps – photos of the condition of a piece of equipment, a history of all checks, who tested what and when and being able to produce this information when required.
So how do people actually manage all this? Many people will keep a myriad of paper files (brilliant in the event of a fire) and spreadsheets on a server in their office (also great if there is a fire or a theft). Obviously these have their flaws and can leave you as the building manager feeling overwhelmed; the amount of administration work that needs to be done just to keep compliant, let alone getting on with the job of making the buildings safe.
Thank fully there are cloud based systems out there (like simPRO) that can help take a lot of the headache away, and can be used by contractors. These systems are designed to streamline the workflow of the contractor to ensure the building is compliant. The systems also provide you as the building manager with access to the reports, history and certificates you need, at the touch of a button.
The difference between using the cheapest contractor and one that is using a system like simPRO, is that you can be sure you have access to the information you need, when you need it and be sure the contractor you are using is adopting a comprehensive and professional approach, to make sure they are keeping diligent records and doing the necessary testing. The last thing you need is to be left in the lurch by your contractor that can’t produce the information when it is needed.
Having all this in the cloud also means it is accessible from the office, from home, from the field and anywhere that has an internet connection and a modern web browser. This makes the system great for transparency and reporting, rather than paper records going up in flames. Being able to produce this information on demand from anywhere, certainly goes a long way to prove your diligence and keeps a lid on the huge amount of administrative compliance work.