Fire safety, Grenfell
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A third of construction professionals believe the industry still has ‘inadequate’ knowledge and training around fire safety, according to a study carried out by Iman Farah Mohamed, a quantity surveying student at Birmingham City University

The study looks at industry views on fire safety following the tragic incident in June 2017.

A third of construction professionals believe the industry still has ‘inadequate’ knowledge and training around fire safety in the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster, the research has found.

It revealed that most professionals think ‘knowledge surrounding fire safety in the construction industry’ is inadequate, while the majority also believe 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 interviewed one expert directly involved with the Grenfell Inquiry, also raised concerns around fire evacuation procedures in UK hospitals.  

The paper, which has been published in the International Journal of Building Pathology and Adaptation, suggests that specific roles should be created dedicated to fire safety, or that existing staff members are given the issue as a key responsibility.

It also recommends that higher education institutions encompass fire safety training in their courses, to ensure the next generation of construction professionals have the skills needed to prevent future disasters from happening.

Compromised education standards

“Educational institutions have drifted from equipping students with detailed knowledge and they now just focus on making money.

“Standards of education are now severely compromised as there many students entering the industry without knowledge. This explains the poor selection and compromise on building materials. Gone are the years of durability and safety. It’s all money,” said one respondent.

Equip future professionals

Iman Farah Mohamed, who wrote the paper, said: “The research showed that there remains some concern in the construction industry around the knowledge and training provided in relation to fire safety.

“Grenfell was a major incident which brought the issue to the front of people’s minds, but while the awareness in the industry has increased, most professionals want to see more from the sector and higher education providers to prioritise fire safety.

“The recommendations suggest how we can make sure professionals of the future are equipped with the knowledge they need to prevent a tragedy like this in the future, and that regulations and guidelines are updated to add a much-needed extra layer of protection.”

Further findings

  • 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 the current fire safety regulations are ‘not fit for purpose’.
  • 37% of those surveyed believe industry knowledge on fire safety is ‘inadequate’.
  • Only 28% of respondents believe university curricula provide sufficient education on fire-proofing buildings.
  • 50% thought communication between residents and constructors around 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 about whether race and class played a role in allowing the neglect which led to the tragedy at Grenfell.

Study recommendations

  • Specialist training be made available to workers across the sector
  • Visiting lecturers and specialist practitioners, such as fire safety engineers, should form part of higher education construction courses
  • New regulations should be introduced to protect against future disasters based on building materials or practices
  • Funding should be made available to ensure professionals are equipped with the knowledge they need.
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