The Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (CIPHE) has been playing a vital role, adding our industry’s professional input through both the Construction Industry Council (CIC) and the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAE) in the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety being led by Dame Judith Hackitt.
The CIPHE has been involved in the specialism of residential fire sprinkler systems for the last 20 years. It is no surprise that many professional plumbers - who are skilled pipework installers - have diversified into this area. With concerns around issues such as installer competence, alongside the risk of Legionella and other water borne pathogens occurring in domestic water systems, the CIPHE has been lending expert advice to a number of high profile reviews, including the London Assembly Planning Committee Consultation.
Kevin Wellman, CEO of the CIPHE said, “With regards to the findings of Dame Hackitt’s Interim Report, I agree wholeheartedly that the current regulatory system for ensuring fire safety in high-rise and complex buildings is not fit for purpose and that the prime focus over recent years has been on energy efficiency and the deregulatory agenda rather than on fire safety and of the importance of the regulations.”
“It is particularly pertinent, in my opinion, to call into question the competence of those involved in the design, construction, on-going operational management and maintenance of complex and high-risk buildings.”
Crucially, the CIPHE is also backing formal accreditation and regulation of installers and is urging a collaborative approach with other professional institutions in exploring such solutions.
Kevin added, “Installing active fire protection systems is just the start. The need to ensure product compliance will be essential, together with regular maintenance to ensure these systems work as expected when they are required. As we have seen within our own and other industries, there will be untrained and unskilled individuals and companies taking advantage of a sudden leap in demand for sprinkler systems. We urge the Government and regulatory bodies to take decisive action to avoid the risk of incompetent installations increasing the likelihood of threats to the safety and health of the public in future.”