Prior to June 2017, FRAs and Fire Spread Prevention was not at top of the list for landlords with many having competing priorities. Following the Grenfell disaster, focus has firmly been on Passive and Active Fire Protection. In 2018/19 CHIC’s total spend on fire prevention reached £1.8m and is projected at £7.2m by the end of 2020.
Underpinned by regulation, Longhurst Group have set up compliance teams. Fire safety previously would have come under a maintenance department whose primary concern is budget. Evidently, Compliance team’s emphasis is on complying which gives the organisation more of a focus.
Longhurst Group is the UK top developer and leading housing group, formed of four housing associations, Longhurst and Havelock Homes, Friendship Care and Housing, Spire Homes and Axiom. All members have built a strong relationship with Sunfish Services since 2005 and the savings and efficiencies are steadily increasing with 746 properties currently on contract.
One of the main difficulties for Sunfish Services was how to get the housing community to comply. It is difficult to work with people who do not have compliance at the top of their agenda, which puts both the housing association’s reputation and the tenants at risk. The Longhurst group however understand the importance of compliance but struggled with taking their increasing number of properties. It was also difficult to develop the database and knowledge base of not just the systems themselves but the buildings and fire alarm systems.
Following the British standard, fire alarms are to be tested twice a year and user testing is on a weekly basis. With the move for housing association to reduce staff, there sometimes isn’t enough people available to carry out the weekly test or they do not deem it part of their role to test fire alarms.
CHIC has been an important part in the long evolving, 16-year relationship between Longhurst and Sunfish Services. The longevity of the contract and fire safety equipment framework being in place plays a crucial part in bringing all of this together with strategic asset management, fundamental pricing structures and procurement advice. It has allowed Longhurst to achieve a great level of compliance in fire safety, across an increasing volume of homes.
With the properties being visited 52 times a year, for each visit there is a service report the engineer produces on a mobile tablet which is emailed from the device to the property compliance team.
Sunfish Services also introduced a new, highly sophisticated system called Nimbus. This records every test of every smoke detector whilst doing the service and puts the data on the cloud where customer can login and use it to make decisions. They can access information such as a complete log and register of when every device is tested and full compliance details straight out of the fire alarm panel. This gives full transparency of work and details of when new work needs to be carried out. It also provides more efficient ways to identify why fires occur and how they can be prevented for the fire department.