There are lots and lots of people talking about this and I wanted to ensure we all focus on the things that matter and don’t get misdirected towards a solution for one aspect of safety. I have received a lot of phone calls asking what the legal stance is on what should actually be done. I fear people are already trying to find an excuse or look for a quick fix solution to whats obviously a big problem. Yes, a sprinkler system may have helped but there are also a million ‘what ifs’ with that solution and all the others we’ve seen recently. Was it tested? Was it on a cyclical regime? Did the council or authority extend the frequency because of financial constraints? Was the contractor off sick when that particular service was due?
Anyone who knows me or has worked with me knows that I like to take things back to basics. Let’s not get a room full of people who are competing for the most money to fulfil ‘their’ duties or who shout louder than everyone else because they believe their sector is more important than the others. We have to collectively sit in a room and everyone has to have their say, Gas, Electrical, Asbestos, Legionella, Communal Ventilation, Lifts, Fire Safety, Housing Management, CCTV, Controlled Entry, Communal TV, District Heating, Electric Heating and any external stakeholders who may be renting roof space for Mobile reception technology etc. Everyone is important and everyone’s technical input should count.
I’ll say my bit quietly so it doesn’t seem I am one of the loud ones!!!!
In terms of electrical infrastructure, we need to ensure we know where things are, how old things are and the regime of maintenance, if any. Your back office has to be flawless with specifications and a log of issues and rectification tasks which have taken place.
Below are the set questions I would have been asking, please feel free to use:
Most highrises were wired in the 60s, how are yours wired now? PIRO looped between floors and terminated into a Bemco unit? Are they sealed? Is it a store cupboard for the tenant old paint jars?
What does the Harmonics look like in terms of the Neutral load? Have you increased the size of cables over time as technology and consumer usage has increased? In the 60s we only had a tele and a VHS recorder!
Where are the connection units for CCTV, TV , Controlled entry etc?
Do you have any drying facilities in the block?
What does the earthing look like?
Is there a facility for communal cleaning and has it been inspected recently? (Sockets on landings etc).
Enclosed spaces and contact with risers and chutes? Escape of water?
Configuration of ground floor links to flats including access?
Consumers Wiring (in flats)
Age of system?
RCD protection? Were you a council that didn’t put fridge/Freezers on RCDs because of the inrush current or the fear of the socket being used outside (not easy on the 10th floor but has been done)?
Hardwired Smoke detection?
On file EICR with recommendations verified by internal technical staff? Whether you like it or not the electrical industry is full of people who will say they’re a qualified ‘tester’. Those in the know understand this is not the case in some instances.
High rise appliances (showers and electric cookers etc)?
Heat detectors in kitchens?
Emergency planning – contact numbers and KPIs for process?
Tenant updates, instruction documents and leaflets that state what to do in certain circumstances?
Rick matrix including who and when work can be carried out in these buildings?
Let’s not fix one problem and wait for another to happen. Proper planning and management doesn’t necessarily mean we have to increase our budgets. Work smarter, think differently and develop a process that suits your organisation and one that sits alongside all the other department needs as well as your own.