A review team chaired by Dame Judith Hackitt published its final report earlier this year (April 2018), setting out to make the system of product testing a clear priority and clear goals for improved fire safety through the long-awaited revisions to Part B of the Building Regulations.
The Hackitt committee stated that the widespread use of “desktop studies” to determine product suitability was undermining the quality of the specification process. It called for test results and the details of those who produce them to be made public and for testing to simulate ‘real life’ operating conditions.
While the practice of desk top studies seems likely to remain part of the compliance process; the fall-out from Grenfell has undoubtedly led to demands for a more rigorous approach based on ‘real life’ operating conditions.
As manufacturers of fire/smoke dampers we have seen a marked shift in demand for more physical testing of our products, fire safety installations and record numbers of enquiries for technical assistance with installation. Not only is the testing of products important, but it also ensures that in reality, tested methods are followed correctly by trained professionals.
The changes called for by the Hackitt Review are creating a significant shift towards more comprehensive testing and a more thorough design process to support the increasingly rigorous professional standards that have emerged from the report.
*Andrew Collard is Actionair Product Manager at Swegon Air Management.