On 27 July, FM Business Daily staged the first of the year’s four roundtable events sponsored by PTSG – which had great input from the Group’s sales team. The event took place at Sodexo’s fantastic head office at 1 Southampton Row, London.

PTSG worked with FM Business Daily to deliver something genuinely unique, bringing together a range of industry professionals – both clients and business prospects – to discuss fire safety in UK facilities and estates, which is arguably the most urgent issue in FM at the present time. What set the event apart from anything else in the FM calendar in 2023 was the ‘audience with’ Dame Judith Hackitt DBE, FREng, FIChemE, FCG, the industry’s leading fire safety advisor.

The event was opened by Dennis Flower, editor of FM Director (formerly editor of PFM magazine). Before Dame Judith delivered her keynote speech, Andrew Dack, PTSG’s Group Sales Director, delivered a short address on how PTSG works with businesses to help them meet the requirements of the new Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022, which took effect on 23 January this year.

Guest speaker – Dame Judith Hackitt

Leading engineer and civil servant Dame Judith Hackitt delivered a thought-provoking speech on the Building Safety Act. Dame Judith was the Chair of the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety, which was commissioned by the Government following the Grenfell Tower fire. The Review’s Interim Report was published in December 2017, and its final report, Building a Safer Future, was issued on 17 May 2018. She now chairs the Industry Safety Steering Group (ISSG).

Dame Judith spoke for 45 minutes on the Building Safety Act, which introduced new duties for the management of fire and building safety in high-rise residential buildings.

In her speech, Dame Judith covered the work completed under the independent review, and highlighted some of the challenges faced from the time constraints available. Using the time to focus on building regulations, She highlighted that although recommendations around this are now to be implemented, there is still work to do on ensuring there are better regulations for fire safety products too. In one of the more sobering passages of her speech, Dame Judith referenced the challenges the industry still faces in meeting basic compliance requirements, and how facilities teams need to make compliance and registration to the Building Safety Register a priority. With the deadline of 30 September 2023 looming, she stated that an example will be made of any large companies who have not registered before the deadline.

A wealth of talking points

Dame Judith Hackitt’s speech led to lively discussions, with guests arranged on four tables with a representative from PTSG’s sales team on each. The feedback from each table was shared with the whole group, prompting a range of questions and answers.

Some of the key concerns, queries, observations and suggestions that arose in the discussions are as follows:

  • We shouldn’t just be driven by legislation, which we must abide by of course, but more by moral duty and desire to consistently do the right things…safely, properly and all of the time.
  • Clients need a degree of guiding or ‘educating’ on who is the person responsible for their building(s) (the Duty Holder) and what their responsibilities are.
  • It is common for the responsibility to be passed along the supply chain and it is often left to letting agents to try and ensure buildings are compliant.
  • Fire safety regulations should cover all buildings, not just residential, and should encompass all parts of buildings.

PTSG provides expert advice and guidance, working with clients to understand their responsibilities regarding fire safety in their buildings. They can then ensure that the required services are delivered to make their buildings safe and compliant with the latest regulations.

PTSG works with both residential and commercial buildings, which answers one of the points raised that the new regulations should encompass both sectors.

The next PTSG-sponsored roundtable event from FM Business Daily will take place in Birmingham in September.

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