17 February 2020 | Herpreet Kaur Grewal
Construction professionals believe that even post-Grenfell fire safety training remains 'inadequate', according to a study published in an industry journal.
A third of construction professionals think the sector is still deficient in training in fire safety indicates a report in the International Journal of Building Pathology and Adaptation carried outby Iman Farah Mohamed, a quantity surveyor student at Birmingham City University.
His report looks at industry views on fire safety following the high-rise inferno in June 2017, in which 72 people lost their lives and more than 70 others were injured.
It finds that most professionals think "knowledge surrounding fire safety in the construction industry" is inadequate, while the majority also believe that higher education institutions need to do more to educate construction students on fire safety before they enter the sector.
The research, which surveyed dozens of people working in construction professions, and includes an interview with one expert directly involved in the Grenfell inquiry, also raised concerns about fire evacuation procedures in the UK's hospitals.
One respondent said: "Current building regulations are compliant, but I'm not sure if they're good enough. Interestingly, there are no specific building regulations for mass evacuations and having spoken to fire services, [I found] they are frightened about hospital fires as the patients are not always mobile, making evacuation difficult."
The paper suggests that specific roles should be created dedicated to fire safety, or that existing staff members should be given the issue as a key responsibility.
It also recommends that higher education institutions should encompass fire safety training in their courses to ensure that the next generation of construction professionals have the skills needed to prevent future disasters.
The report also shows that:
There has been an increased awareness of fire safety concerns in the profession since the Grenfell fire.
There are concerns that the UK hospitals may struggle to evacuate immobile patients in the event of a fire.
Many believe that the current fire safety regulations are 'not fit for purpose'.
37% of those surveyed believe that industry knowledge on fire safety is 'inadequate'.
Only 28% of respondents think university curricula provide adequate education on fireproofing buildings.
50% think communication between residents and constructors on fire safety should be formalised.
New roles should be created to prioritise fire safety or this responsibility should be a requirement of existing jobs such as facilities managers.
Respondents were conflicted on whether race and class played a role in allowing the neglect that led to the tragedy at Grenfell.