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An overview of safety reform 

This hub aims to bring together all the latest information around building, fire and life safety so that members engaged in these sectors can find the news updates, guidance, resources and details of changes to legislation they need, all in one place. 

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Following the tragic events at Grenfell Tower in June 2017, the Government announced a series of measures and actions to prevent a similar tragedy from ever happening again.

Almost immediately, an Industry Response Group  (IRG) was established to review the solutions needed to ensure building safety and that the supply chain could manage a rapid upsurge in remedial and refurbishment work following the fire. An independent Expert Panel was also set up to advise Government what urgent steps were necessary to improve fire safety. 

This Panel ordered a testing programme of materials and, based on their findings, issued advice to building owners in conjunction with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. 

Additionally, two independent investigations related to the tragedy were announced: the Grenfell Tower Public Inquiry to examine the circumstances leading up to and surrounding the fire, and the Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety which was led by led by Dame Judith Hackitt and focused particularly on higher risk residential buildings. 

The Public Inquiry is still ongoing and is now in its second phase, whilst Dame Judith’s final report Building a Safer Future (see ‘Policy reports’ below) was published in May 2018. It found that the current regulatory system for ensuring fire safety in high-rise and complex buildings is effectively not fit for purpose. The Government has committed to implementing and legislating for all the recommendations of the Hackitt Review and the first phase of the independent inquiry. This will require a fundamental shift in culture which will impact greatly on the FM sector, likely to result its first statutory role of the Building Safety Manager (BSM) – see the Building Safety Manager competence framework section below.

IWFM is supporting the Government’s actions by providing specialist information and advice on managing building safety. More information about the variety of our work in this area can be found in the IWFM activity section below. 

 
Latest news and updates

On 19 January 2021 the Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick announced that a new national regulator is being set up to regulate how construction products and materials are tested, certified, labelled and marketed. This body will operate within the Office for Product Safety and Standards, acting alongside the new Building Safety Regulator which is already running in shadow form under the HSE, and will have strong enforcement powers. The government is also to conduct an independent review to examine the weaknesses in existing testing regimes for construction products, which have been highlighted by the Grenfell inquiry.

On 24 November the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee published their report following their pre-legislative inquiry of the Draft Building Safety Bill. IWFM was quoted several times in the report, whose recommendations chimed with our submission to the inquiry, particularly around the new Building Safety Manager role. For further details of the Bill see the ‘Legislation – forthcoming’ section below.

On 5 October 2020, another milestone was reached in the development of the new building safety regime with the publication of the Competence Steering Group’s final report, Setting the Bar. At the same time, the competency framework for the statutory new Building Safety Manager role created by the Group’s Working Group 8, was also published. To read more on how these developments will change the role of FMs and on IWFM’s leading contribution to this work click here.

On that same day, the International Fire Safety Standards coalition (IFSS), published its first version of its Common Principles. The document sets out to provide fire safety guidance which is universally applicable across all stages of the building life cycle and can be used by governments, statutory bodies, communities and individuals across the world. More information about the work of the IFSS can be found below.

The Common Principles have been presented to the United Nations (UN) with a view to them being accepted as a UN standard. Next year also marks the start of the UN’s Decade of Action for Fire Safety.

Timeline of Government policy and legislation 

Some observers have felt that the journey to amending building safety following the Grenfell fire has been unnecessarily slow. Here we highlight the key points along the way, including the current status of proposed changes and, to help members prepare in advance, the anticipated key future dates.

See a large scale of the timeline here. An interactive version will be available soon. 

Here members can also find IWFM’s submissions to government consultations and a timeline of policy and legislation developments over the last three years.

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Policy reports

The work of the review to date found that the current regulatory system for ensuring fire safety in high-rise and complex buildings is not fit for purpose. This applies throughout the life cycle of a building, both during construction and occupation, and is a problem connected both to the culture of the construction industry and the effectiveness of the regulators

The report covers six broad areas; regulation and guidance; roles and responsibilities; competence, process, compliance and enforcement; residents’ voice and raising concerns; and quality assurance and products.
The most important development for FMs outlined in this report includes the introduction of the new statutory role and function of the Building Safety Manager.

In response to this report, IWFM (as BIFM) submitted Life Safety Recommendations in Facilities Management. Taking a whole building approach, we identified four key problem areas about fire safety in all buildings, not just residential, that we considered essential to address and to strengthen fire – and wider life - safety when managing buildings.

Covering the events that took place on 14 June 2017 with a detailed account of the fire and the steps taken in response to it, analysis of the response of the LFB and the other emergency services, with recommendations based on these findings.

Phase of the inquiry examining the causes of these events, including how Grenfell Tower came to be in a condition which allowed the fire to spread, is currently ongoing.

  • Building safety advice for building owners, including fire doors (January 2020)
    Advice from the Independent Expert Advisory Panel on the measures owners should take to ensure their buildings are safe including guidance on cladding, external wall systems, smoke control systems and fire doors.

Legislation - current

There are several regimes that consider buildings and fire safety risk during the life cycle of a building: 

 Design and construction (including refurbishment):

  • The Town and Country Planning Act 1990 makes provision on the development of land in England and Wales. In most instances, a formal request must be made to a local authority for permission to build something new or to add something to an existing building. This request must include the design. The Town and County Planning Act is enforced by Local Planning Authorities
  • The Building Act 1984 and its regulations makes provision on the construction process, and the design and specifications for buildings and their component parts, and related matters, in England. Building regulations approval is required for most building work. The Building Act and Regulations are enforced by Building Control in local authorities
  • The Building Regulations 2010 establish general functional requirements for buildings when constructed, and are supported by Approved Documents, approved and issued under section 6 of the Building Act 1984, which set out detailed practical guidance on compliance. The building regulations also set out procedures for the control of building work by local authorities
    • Approved Document B lays down building regulations in England for fire safety in residential homes, including new and existing dwellings, flats, residential accommodation, schools, colleges and offices.
  • The Building (Approved Inspectors etc) Regulations 2010 set out the detailed provisions for the supervision of building work by approved inspectors, including the method of grant and withdrawal of approved inspector status and the way the approved inspector system operates
  • The Building (Local Authority Charges) Regulations 2010 relate to the charging scheme for carrying out building control functions.

Occupation:

  • The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (Fire Safety Order) makes provision on fire safety for buildings in use and places the responsibility on individuals within an organisation to carry out risk assessments to identify, manage and reduce the risk of fire. The Fire Safety Order applies to workplaces and common parts of shared residential properties. It does not cover individual dwellings. The Fire Safety Order is enforced by fire and rescue services

  • The Housing Act 2004 make provision about housing conditions in all dwellings in use and regulates houses in multiple occupation and certain other residential accommodation. It is enforced by Housing Officers and Environmental Health Officers in local authorities
  • The Housing Health and Safety Rating System (England) Regulations 2005 (HHSRS), made under the 2004 Act, make provisions to assess housing conditions in all dwellings in use in their areas and require works to be done to remediate hazards (including fire) identified in housing. These regulations are enforced by Housing Officers Environmental Health Officers in local authorities.  

Construction products:

  • Construction Products Regulation (EU) No 305/2011 (CPR) lays down harmonised rules for the marketing of construction products in the EU. The regulation provides a common technical language to assess the performance of construction products. It ensures that reliable information is available to professionals, public authorities, and consumers, so they can compare the performance of products from different manufacturers in different countries. The CPR covers both products subject to a harmonised standard under EU law and those subject to a European Technical Assessment (ETA); an alternative for construction products not covered by a harmonised standard. It is a document providing information on their performance assessment and offers a way for manufacturers to draw up the Declaration of Performance and affix the CE marking. It contributes to the free movement of construction products and the creation of a strong Single Market.

Legislation - forthcoming

Draft Safety Bill

The Draft Building Safety Bill – an extensive and complex piece of legislation – takes forward reforms of the building safety system in line with the proposals confirmed in the response to the Building a safer future consultation, and represents the most significant and fundamental changes to building safety legislation in decades.

Under this legislation, those who build and manage higher-risk buildings will need to demonstrate and be accountable for how they have considered the safety of residents; and there will be tougher sanctions for those fail to meet their obligations.

Importantly for FMs, the new bill outlines the future statutory responsibilities for building safety management in higher-risk buildings (initially multi-occupancy residential buildings higher than 18 metres or six storeys), including those of the Building Safety Manager (BSM) – a role which is most likely to be assigned to FMs during the building occupation stage.

While in first instance, the scope of buildings will be limited to multi-occupancy residential buildings, including student accommodation, the scope of the bill is highly probable to be expanded over several phases, with the next expansion likely to cover hospitals, prisons, care homes, hotels, etc, with an eventual likelihood of offices being covered too.

Following pre-legislative scrutiny of the Bill, the Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee has published its report on the legislation. It has broadly welcomed the Bill, but suggests further detail will be needed to show that the proposals can drive the reforms needed. The report’s findings and recommendations include: 

  • The draft legislation does not provide sufficient protection against leaseholders paying the bill for work to remedy existing fire safety defects. Government should provide sufficient funding for remedial work (the existing £1.6 billion building safety fund will prove insufficient) and develop mechanisms to recover costs from those responsible
  • There are significant gaps in how the new regime would operate in practice. Government should provide much more detail on the scope of the legislation and the regulation and responsibilities of building operators. The draft legislation also fails to provide an explicit definition of the ‘higher risk’ buildings it will apply to, leaving clarification of the term to the explanatory notes
  • There should be greater oversight of key professions in the construction and building management sectors, including new roles created by the Bill. The exact responsibilities and competencies of the newly established accountable person and building safety manager positions are not well-defined and should be clarified. The Bill should also require building safety managers, as well as other professions involved in the design and construction of higher-risk buildings, to be subject to national accreditation and registration standards
  • There is a lack of detail on the future testing system for regulating construction products. Government should legislate for a rigorous and transparent system, including the publication of test failures and re-run tests

The Government is due to respond to the report in January 2021, with the actual Bill to be presented to Parliament in the first half of the year. Ultimate provisions are widely anticipated to be implemented by 2024 at the earliest.

Consultations and IWFM submission papers

  • Fire safety - proposals to strengthen the Fire Safety Order, implementing the Grenfell Tower Inquiry recommendations and strengthening regulations on how building control bodies share and fire safety information (Home Office):
  • BSI consultation on second iteration of ‘Built environment - overarching framework for competence of individuals’ (open until 2 February 2021).
    BSI is building a framework of documents to raise the standards of competence for key professions and trades working on buildings in scope of the new building safety regime. The overarching framework, known as BSI Flex 8670, is the first phase of the BSI work on developing competence standards. The second phase will see the overarching framework inform the three PASs the BSI has been commissioned to develop for the three new statutory roles in the forthcoming Building Safety Bill: Principal Designer, Principal Contractor and Building Safety Manager (BSM).
    The overarching competence framework covers areas including safety management, risk management, regulations and processes, building systems, ethics and fire/life safety. BSI is seeking comments on the specification for these building safety competences under its standardisation process.
    It is expected that statutory guidance following the forthcoming Building Safety Bill will make references to these standards to help duty-holders meet their legal duties. This means that BSMs will need to demonstrate compliance with the future BSM PAS before they can be appointed as a BSM. The overarching framework is expected to be published as a BSI Flex in March 2021.
  • Pre-legislative scrutiny of the Building Safety Bill focusing on five broad areas of proposed reform: accountability, residents’ voice, enforcement and sanctions, product testing and the regulatory system (Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee):
  • Building a safer future: proposals for reform of the building safety regulatory system (Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government)
  • Call for evidence on the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (Home Office):


Guidance on managing safety reform

In this section our aim is to support members in approaching and managing the impacts of the changes that are being implemented in the building, fire and life safety sector. Government has already indicated the reforms it intends to implement, including creating new statutory roles and responsibilities for those who own and manage buildings. These changes will require not just significant financial investment to ensure building compliance, but also substantial time and resources to develop the skills, knowledge, experience and behaviours needed to ensure this is carried out.

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Agile Guidance – updated as more relevant information is known

Act now to get ready for the shape of things to come

The new Building Safety Regulator has already started to function in shadow format and will initially focus on fire and structural safety for all multi-occupied residential buildings of 18 metres or more in height, or more than six storeys (whichever is reached first). Working with industry and other regulatory bodies, the regulator will also seek to strengthen the safety and performance of other buildings, based on emerging risk evidence, as well as the competence of those working in the sector.

Although we do not anticipate the new legislation to be implemented until 2021, regulatory authorities expect the sector to be acting now to prepare for the changes. Specific areas and measures that businesses and building managers should be considering include:

Building safety measures: review, remediate, improve

  • Assess which buildings in your remit will fall within the scope of the new regime either immediately or in the future – would any of them benefit from the best practice the new regime is advocating? Develop an asset management plan to prioritise works
  • Review the safety related measures that should be in place and remediate where necessary. Both the Grenfell Tower Public Inquiry phase 1 report and the Expert Advisory Panel’s Advice for Building Owners  have issued recommendations and updated guidance (please click on links for details). Key areas to consider include:
    • Remove unsafe materials and remediate any unsafe wall systems
    • Make sure fire risk assessments are up to date, with specific checks on: 1) external wall cladding and fire resistance, 2) fire doors – are they fire resistant and self-closing? Test at least every three months to ensure self-closing devices are working effectively
    • Review and test fire-fighting systems and equipment - including fire lifts and their control mechanisms - to ensure they are functioning correctly
    • Review emergency fire procedures: personal evacuation plans should be drawn up for residents who may need assistance with evacuation, provide for evacuation signals, check that effective smoke control systems are in place and that floor levels are clearly and prominently marked

People: the new statutory duties and functions

  • Will you have the new statutory roles of Accountable Person and Building Safety Manager (BSM) for each building covered? These roles can be fulfilled by legal entities, but there will need to be a competent individual named as the BSM, while the accountability of the Accountable Person will not be transferable, and both will need to be registered with the new regulator. Do you already have the right people for these roles?
  • If you have someone for the new BSM role, do they have the right skills and experience? The competence framework upon which the BSI national standard will be based on will be published on our website very shortly.
  • Staff training and upskilling will be needed to raise awareness about their responsibilities and liabilities, especially for those carrying out statutory roles and duties
  • Do you have sufficient resources (people and time) as well as the funding to put the new measures in place and ensure compliance?

Information and systems:

  • The new regime will rely on putting sufficient information in the hands of the relevant people so that they can plan and implement the right actions, and can then evidence that their approach meets the requirements of the new regime to the regulator
  • Start collating the information which will be needed to meet the requirements of the new safety case (page 50) which shows how fire and other risks are being managed, the digital ‘golden thread’ (page 66) of building information and the premises information box for emergency services (please click on the links for further details)
  • Another element of the regime is the need for a transparent engagement strategy with residents to ensure they have access to the relevant fire safety information, if you are not already doing so, start developing your engagement strategy.

Existing IWFM Guidance

A Good Practice Guide for members providing insight on the legislative process of fire safety, including information covering compliance, fire risk assessments, fire safety management policy, fire safety training, and more. This guidance will be updated in light of the review of the Fire Safety Order, but many of its principles stand.

IWFM Good Practice Guide – Managing fire safety (2016)


IWFM’s activity on building safety 

We are supporting the Government’s actions in this area by providing specialist information and advice led by the expert members of our Life Safety Working Group, who between them have over 50 years of experience in the building, fire and life safety sectors.

In addition to provide written responses to a series of reports and consultation, IWFM has fed into the work of the Competence Steering Group (CSG), a sub-group of the IRG focused with the industry coordination to the challenge Dame Judith Hackitt set in her Independent Review.  The Construction Industry Council chaired the Steering Group, of which IWFM was a participant.

Since July 2018, IWFM provided the Secretariat for the CSG’s Working Group 8 (See below) which has developed the competence framework for the Building Safety Manager - a new function incorporated in the draft Building Safety Bill - who would be responsible for the day-to-day management of a building and act as a point of contact for its residents. This role is an exciting development for the world of workplace and facilities management professionals as it will become the first statutory role in our world, recognising the critical importance of managing buildings.

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Life Safety Working Group

The Life Safety Working Group (LSWG) is the IWFM’s group of experts which was called together after the tragedy so that we could feed into the developing policy and responses.  The Group members have been working over the last three years to feed into several working groups, including the preparatory working groups which fed into the development of the Final Hackitt Report.  The Group members also fed into several of the competence working groups of the CSG, including WG8 Building Safety Manager, WG9 Site Supervisors and WG10 Project Managers.  The Group also helped to articulate the various responses to government policy developments.

Core members of the Group are:

Rob Greenfield

Rob has more than 30 years’ experience in FM, for the last 15 years specialising in the environmental health and safety management of diverse, multi-site portfolios.

A member of the Industry Response Group reviewing fire safety following the Grenfell fire and of the expert panel for the Construction Industry Council, he was involved in the review of Building Regulations & Fire Safety which assisted in the publication of the Dame Judith Hackitt ‘Building a Safer Future’ report.

Rob is a permanent member of the LSWG and co-author of the IWFM Good Practice Guide Managing fire safety.

Chris Jeffers

With more than 20 years’ experience in the property and FM sectors, Chris is currently Director and Head of Facility Management Advisory at Mott MacDonald.

His specialities include FM strategy, procurement and contract management, service improvement initiatives, delivering sustainable workspace and property service solutions for a wide range of built facilities.

Chris is a permanent member of the LSWG, past chair of the IWFM Procurement Special Interest Group and regularly contributes to a number of industry bodies and initiatives.

Michael Morgan

Michael is a Professional Chartered Safety and Health Practitioner with more than 40 years’ experience in the industry. For the last 18 years he has run his own consultancy with clients, including many SMEs, in the education, health and construction sectors.

He has extensive knowledge of health and safety management including strategy, risk assessment, systems, processes and compliance. He is also an accredited health and safety trainer and has written three books on the subject.

Michael is a permanent member of the LSWG and co-author of the IWFM Good Practice Guide Managing fire safety.

Martin Ryan

Martin owns a consultancy which offers advice, audits and guidance on fire and facilities management, strategy, maintenance and compliance, both pre and post occupancy.

With 10 years’ experience in health and safety, he has been responsible for hard and soft facilities for multiple sites in the local authority and education sectors, including student and private rented accommodations – everything from public toilets to 800-bed high-rise buildings!

Martin has been a member of the LSWG since February 2019 and has written a paper on the need for fire regulation reform following the Grenfell fire.

Wayne Ward

As well as running his own building services consultancy, Wayne is currently managing a regeneration programme of primarily Higher Risk Residential Buildings for a large housing association and housebuilder including the review of building safety measures and the implementation of a comprehensive fire remediation programme.

With more than 20 years as a built environment specialist, he has extensive experience in refurbishment programme management, defect investigation, contract administration, sustainable design, environmental risk assurance, energy efficiency and construction design and specification.

Wayne took part in the Construction Industry Council response to the Hackitt Review as a member of the working groups on Site Supervision and Project Management.

Wayne is a permanent member of the LSWG.

Dame Judith Hackitt Report: Building a Safer Future, Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety: final report (May 2018)

In response to this report, IWFM (as BIFM) submitted Life Safety Recommendations in Facilities Management. Taking a whole building approach, we identified four key problem areas about fire safety in all buildings, not just residential, that we considered essential to address and to strengthen fire – and wider life - safety when managing buildings.

Additional IWFM written responses to consultations can be found in the consultation section above.


The Building Safety Manager competence framework

Working Group 8 (WG8) have published their final report, Safer people, safer homes: Building Safety Management, the culmination of their work in developing the competence requirements for the new statutory role of Building Safety Manager (BSM). This Working Group is part of the CSG’s wider work on competence (see next section).
 

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WG8 members cover a wide range of residential and commercial expertise for the occupation phase, with participating members coming from social housing sector, commercial and residential management, facilities managers, health and safety experts and fire safety experts and representatives from ARMA, Avison Young, BPF, BRE Group, CIAT, CIH, FPA, IFSM, IRPM, IWFM, Knight Frank, LGA, NFCC, NHF, NSHFG, RICS and UKAS.

IWFM has played a significant role in this work as one of the key members of WG8 and its secretariat, and we will remain at the forefront of the framework’s implementation, including driving the BSI workstream to develop the new Building Safety Manager PAS (Publicly Available Specification).

The next step in development of this competence framework is the embedding of the WG8 work into a Publicly Available Specification (PAS). IWFM, and its LSWG will continue to feed into this work, which will commence in earnest in March 2021 with anticipated final PAS scheduled for March 2022.

Competence Steering Group – Setting the Bar

The cross-industry group which represents more than 150 organisations in the fire and built environment sectors has published its blueprint to drive culture change within the industry and to improve competence for those working on higher-risk buildings.

Setting the bar is the second and final report of the Competence Steering Group (CSG), work which was initiated by the recommendations in Dame Judith Hackitt’s review ‘Building a safer future’.

The overarching system of competence proposed in the report comprises four key elements:

  • a new competence committee sitting within the new Building Safety Regulator
  • a national suite of competence standards, including new sector-specific frameworks developed by 12 working groups
  • arrangements for independent assessment and reassessment against the competence standards
  • a mechanism to ensure that those assessing and certifying people against the standards have appropriate levels of oversight.

CSG and its working groups have developed sector-wide and overarching competence frameworks for specific building safety roles, whilst delivering a more rigorous approach to the essential training and assessment that is required.

The body has worked closely with the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government and some of the its key recommendations have already been adopted, including the proposal for a Committee on Industry Competence as set out in the draft Building Safety Bill.

International Fire Safety Standards Coalition

At international level, we are a member of the International Fire Safety Standards Coalition (IFSS) which was launched at the UN in Geneva in 2018. Currently, many different fire safety frameworks apply across the world meaning there is no single authoritative way to work. For the first time at a global collaborative level IFSS will bring greater consistency by setting landmark minimum levels of fire safety and professionalism across the world.

The IFSS has produced the first version of their Common Principles document, which sets out to provide fire safety guidance across all stages of the building life cycle, is universally applicable and can be used by governments, communities and individuals across the world.


News articles, webinars, presentations and insight

A collection of the most recent IWFM news items tracing developments in policy and legislation on all aspects of fire safety. Plus, expert opinions and views on how these changes will affect workplace and FM professionals in the future.

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News articles

Building safety: BSI seeking views on the overarching framework for building safety competence (14 January 2021) 

Building Safety Manager: Housing Select Committee advocates IWFM’s recommendations (27 November 2020) 

Building safety: International Fire Safety Standards coalition launch global common principles (19 October 2020) T

The Building Safety Manager: who will need to develop the new skills and competence requirements? (8 October 2020)

Industry publishes blueprint for improving competence and driving culture change (5 October 2020)

Consultation on the overarching framework for industry competence (24 September 2020)

Help to shape our response on the draft Building Safety Bill (10 September 2020)

Industry Safety Steering Group hails progress on Building Safety Manager role (14 August 2020)

Call for evidence on draft bill; IWFM CEO discusses implications for FMs (12 August 2020)

Fire safety: Home Office launches new consultation (30 July 2020)

Government publishes draft ‘game changing’ legislation (30 July 2020)

IWFM CEO Linda Hausmanis’ comment on the draft Building Safety Bill (21 July 2020

IWFM discusses new statutory role of Building Safety Manager with Dame Judith Hackitt (4 June 2020)

Building a safer future: the UK Government’s vision for its building safety programme (9 April 2020)

Government introduces new Fire Safety Bill for England and Wales  (18 March 2020)

Government consulting industry on the use of combustible materials (18 February 2020)

New legislation; government’s response to Grenfell Inquiry Phase 1  (29 January 2020)

Presentations and webinars

Presentation: Lessons from Grenfell (2 March 2020)

Presentation: CDM Regulations 2015 as inspiration for the new building safety regime and the impact on FM (16 August 2019)

Presentations: The critical role of the Building Safety Manager (24 July 2019)

Webinar: Building Safety Manager and the draft Bill (07 October 2020)


Contact

If you have any questions on building, fire or life safety, please do not hesitate to contact us by email at: policy@iwfm.org.uk