Making Legacy Issues a Thing of the Past
Are you familiar with instances where firestopping installations may not have been entirely compliant? Maybe a fire collar was not mechanically fixed, a wrap was used in an oversized hole, or PU foam used to seal around services? If so, it’s okay, we give you the benefit of the doubt you were working to the best of your knowledge at the time! Acknowledging how you’ve worked in the past is the first step towards improvement.
We understand that the challenges of construction projects can sometimes lead to unintentional deviations from plans and regulations. And, at times, following firestopping guidelines may be hindered by tight deadlines, changing applications, or even just a lack of clarity on industry best practices.
But we’re here to tell you that it’s never too late to change the way you work and ensure fire safety is at the forefront of your projects.
There are two steps to this. One, facing the current situation and identifying areas of non-compliance. Two, once you are aware of the areas that require improvement, rethinking internal processes to ensure future installations are in line with regulations.
The cost of not doing it right the first time around
Like fixing anything that goes wrong, legacy issues are no stranger to a hefty price. As the industry knows, retrofit projects are not only more costly, but tremendous hassle.
July 2023 saw Barratt Development spend/ allocate £180m on “making legacy buildings safe […] this is in addition to the £434.6m provision it made in 2022.” For retrofit work, there is less test evidence available and, therefore, maybe little-to-no choice when it comes to firestopping. This is because many legacy projects will have limited access, usually single side only and require the removal of kitchens, bathrooms, walls, and ceilings.
Opting for tested products from a competent manufacturer during the initial stages of a project will prove far more cost-effective than having to fix any defects in the building later on.
Uprooting your reputation, legacy issues will ensure you pay the price for not doing it right the first time around. No matter what, there will inevitably be consequences for any unwise choices made in the past.
How can legacy issues be avoided?
Do it right, do it once
By taking an early engagement approach, you may feel as if you are slowing the project down to evaluate its wants and needs instead of getting on with the job. But this provides you with the opportunity to engage all the responsible parties overseeing the design and installation of firestopping systems. By doing so, any potential problems or untested applications can be identified at an early stage, and appropriate solutions can be implemented, aligning with the manufacturers’ guidelines. Early engagement saves lives. But it also helps to avoid extra costs and delays, ensures compliant and achievable installations, protects, and even improves your reputation.
Creating the golden thread of information
Following Hackitt’s Building Safety Review, the concept of the golden thread of information was created to ensure that key information about a building’s lifecycle is gathered, stored, and maintained. It needs to be created before any building work starts and kept up to date throughout the design and construction phase. This shows that the building is compliant and meets regulation requirements. Because of this thorough process, potential legacy issues are less likely to get missed and anyone can understand the building and keep both the building and occupants safe.
Embracing industry software
You don’t have to go it alone. Many industry software companies help accountable persons create and maintain the golden thread of information. Keeping up-to-date documentation on what is installed in the building provides complete transparency and traceability, thus, eliminating any future vulnerabilities.
If you are facing challenges from legacy issues, rest assured that you are not alone. There are effective measures that can be implemented to address these concerns and prioritise fire safety. But first, it’s crucial to move beyond past practices, learn from mistakes, and take a proactive approach in constructing buildings going forward.
This involves early engagement, fostering cross-party communication and collaboration, and paying close attention to detail. Sometimes, it may even require a cultural change. These steps are essential to safeguarding both people and property. If we continue with the same old methods, legacy issues will continue to surface, and buildings will never truly be secure. Ultimately, we must consider: what is the true value of life?
Engage with relevant parties and manufacturers, like ourselves, who are always ready to offer evidence-based support and solutions. Help is out there, be sure to utilise it.