Fire Protection

Why the industry needs to improve transparency and provide certainty when it comes to fire safety and technical competency

Following the Hackitt Review that highlighted the need for cultural change in the construction industry, Stacey discusses why the industry needs to provide certainty on specification performance when it comes to fire safety.

In 2017, the Grenfell Tower tragedy triggered an inquiry that changed the face of construction. Delving into issues of safety and competency, the investigation has highlighted how complete transparency is crucial to ensuring that we build better and safer.

In Dame Judith Hackitt’s review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety, it was highlighted that there is a need for significant cultural and regulatory change throughout the entire industry to support the delivery of buildings that are safe, both now and for the future.

Following the review, the Construction Product Association (CPA) established the Marketing Integrity Group (MIG) to propose solutions to the issues raised, which has subsequently led to the development of the Code for Construction Product Information (CCPI). This ensures that manufacturers produce and present information about their products that is clear, accurate, up to date, accessible and unambiguous.

As dedicated supporters of the new CCPI, we are committed to continue providing our customers and construction partners with a ‘golden thread’ of information to ensure that we support them with complete transparency and do our part to help our construction partner customers build better. Whilst already confident of our approach, we have undertaken an additional in-depth review of how we approach marketing and data integrity when it comes to product and system performance data. By providing certainty and sharing our collective know-how on our range of innovative drylining specifications and products, we are confident that we are taking further steps to ensure that we provide you with the information you need to lead the way in building better.

As part of our commitment to providing complete transparency on specification performance to our customers, we have become a Registered Signatory of the Building a Safer Future (BSF) Charter, which comprises five commitments that require Signatories to put building safety first.

The commitments include spearheading change and being the voice of building safety within the industry, being transparent in sharing key information with residents, clients, contractors, and other stakeholders, and making safety a key factor when selecting construction partners. The charter also calls for its Registered Signatories to ensure the safety of those living and working in high-rise buildings is central in all decision making, as well as asking them to make sure all members of staff understand their role in maintaining building safety throughout each project.

By joining like-minded businesses in signing the Charter and embedding its principles into our practices, we are confident that we will continue to remain at the forefront of the significant cultural and regulatory change that is being undertaken across the industry.

One of the ways that we manage the quality and safety of our products and ensure they perform as specified now and in the future, is by controlling product changes to make sure that any change does not downgrade the performance of our drylining specifications.

We have a new product information management (PIM) system in place to ensure the performance information on each of our drylining specifications including structural, acoustic and fire protection performance is clear, unambiguous and up to date. We have over 13,000 test reports that are rigorously maintained through a thorough, routine testing program, with most British Gypsum drylining system tests being carried out at our independent UKAS accredited Building Test Centre.

The performance and safety of a building depends not only on the design and products used, but also on the quality of installation and ensuring that products and drylining systems are installed as designed. This is why we are leading the way in upskilling the professional drylining and plastering labour force. For many years we have supported students through our college partnership training programmes, as well as qualified professionals to keep them at the top of their trade – again, answering the calls for support that our customers are calling for.

Our training academies are located across the country and are run by drylining system installation and plastering experts. By having these experts at the forefront and sharing our technical know-how, we intend to ensure the highest of standards with both those entering the industry and those continuing to develop their expertise and their drylining and plastering careers.

As the construction industry faces high levels of scrutiny over how buildings are designed and built, it is our responsibility as the UK’s leading manufacturer of drylining and finishing solutions to lead the way with how things should be done, provide certainty, and help others to follow our lead. By going further to make sure that our own standards are accessible, transparent, and up to date we are confident that we are making it easier for everyone in the industry to build better.

Having reviewed the way in which we manage marketing and data integrity, it is clear that the only way to achieve lasting and tangible results for the business and our customer’s, is to improve what we do by continuing to provide clear and accurate product, system and specification information that can be relied upon. However, in order to ensure that the projects we specify maintain an accurate and up to date ‘golden thread’ of information, we are urging our partner construction customers within the industry to join us in taking responsibility and helping us build safer and build better.

We care about building better.