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New forum to address practical fire safety issues

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The Structural Fire Safety Forum, a new body set up in a joint initiative by the Steel Construction Institute and the Association for Specialist Fire Protection, held its inaugural meeting in September.

It aims to provide a liaison forum for all parties involved in the design, manufacture, specification, installation, inspection and maintenance of fire protection systems.

Groups with an interest in the subject including the Institution of Structural Engineers and the Institution of Fire Engineers, the BCSA and Corus Construction & Industrial plus insurers, fire officers, building control officers and contractors, were invited to attend.

Frank Sheehan, Chief Fire Officer of West Midlands Fire Brigade, was invited by ASFP and SCI to chair the group. Mr Sheehan was seen as independent of the construction industry, yet knowledgeable in the field of safety.

The forum will be free to define its own brief. However, areas it is expected to address include: methods of achieving appropriate and economic solutions for structural fire safety to meet Building Regulations and insurer requirements; best practice in the field of fire protection materials from initial testing to ensuring effectiveness throughout the life of the building; certification of fire protection applicators; and identifying where additional guidance is needed to make sure that those with responsibility for fire safety can make informed choices.

SCI Principal Engineer Dr Ian Simms said: “The forum will provide an opportunity to ensure that the steel construction industry has the information it requires to face the challenges posed by new construction techniques and materials and to maintain the good fire safety record that has been enjoyed to date.”

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