Concerns rise over building owners’ attitude to life safety

Research from life safety systems manufacturer, Hochiki Europe, suggests European installers are becoming increasingly concerned about their customers’ understanding of life safety systems and regulation.

The survey, which questioned European installers, shed light on some worrying findings, including more than 60 per cent of respondents reporting that they visit a site where ‘the responsible person’ for fire safety is unknown at least once a month.

Almost a third (32 per cent) of installers also reported regularly encountering properties which had inappropriately positioned or outdated life safety equipment. While more than a third of installers claimed up to 80 per cent of sites they visit do not comply with current fire safety regulations.

Gaps in maintenance

The research also examined attitudes towards life safety maintenance. According to the report, nearly 70 per cent of European installers think their clients view the upkeep of their life safety systems as a tick-box exercise, with just 11 per cent viewing it as an essential process that safeguards building users.

At the same time, Hochiki Europe’s survey also found that two-fifths (40%) of installers say their customers are not even aware of the legal requirements for system maintenance. In line with this finding, respondents reported that, on average, 55 per cent of fire detection logbooks and 64 per cent of emergency lighting logbooks were not up to date, despite it being a legal requirement.

Hochiki Europe’s research also examined the most common fire safety and emergency lighting maintenance issues that installers face when visiting properties. The top five fire safety maintenance issues encountered by installers in 2017 were:

  1. Change of building / room use without correctly altering the fire system (50%)
  2. Inadequate logbook records (43%)
  3. The original installer didn’t install the best system for the environment (40%)
  4. Detectors need cleaning (32%)
  5. Detectors need replacing (26%)

The top five emergency lighting maintenance issues encountered by installers in 2017 were:

  1. Broken / faulty lamps (44%)
  2. Inadequate logbook records (42%)
  3. Inadequate emergency lighting signage (39%)
  4. Batteries not charged in emergency lighting units (35%)
  5. Inadequate lux levels (25%)

Tracy Kirk, General Manager of Sales and Marketing for Hochiki Europe, commented: “Having a correctly designed safety system, installed by a qualified engineer, in a building is vital when it comes to protecting lives. This being said, a fire detection device or emergency lighting unit can only safeguard occupant safety if it is in working order.”

“This year’s installer study has resulted in some stark findings for the industry and sheds light on serious gaps in terms of our customers’ attitudes towards life safety in Europe. It’s clear that there needs to be an increased focus on educating duty holders throughout our built environment on how important it is to look after life safety systems. Those with the responsibility of system upkeep should also ensure they are up to speed with the latest legislation and regulations to keep building occupants safe.”

Hochiki Europe offers training courses and technical information to support building owners and facilities managers looking to learn more about their life safety roles and responsibilities.

To find out more, visit: http://www.hochikieurope.com/relax.