Second anniversary of Grenfell Tower tragedy…

Every high-risk building needs a Digital System of Record (DSoR)

On the second anniversary of the Grenfell Tower tragedy, we still await decisive action to prevent a recurrence.

Despite the solemn commitment of the UK government to act, little progress has been made. Fire safety in high-risk buildings and the regulatory environment that governs them still has to be tackled.

Even with the global profile of the Grenfell Tower tragedy, followed by the subsequent report by Dame Judith Hackitt, decisive action is sadly lacking. The government has committed to implement the Hackitt Report’s findings in full, yet the property industry has failed to make any changes to their life and fire safety approach.

It’s almost as though firms involved are asleep at the wheel. Or are they simply waiting for the new regulator to give them explicit instructions of how they should behave?

To quote Dame Judith Hackitt:

“I said in my review we did not need to wait for the regulation before people started to change their behaviours. That is what we have been trying to push for and now we have that clear message from government that the regulations are going to be implemented in full there is a need for us to underline that. There really is no reason to wait for the regulation before the behaviour change starts to happen.”

One of the key findings of the Hackitt report was that all high-risk buildings should establish a ‘golden thread’ of digital fire and life safety information. In the TrackMyRisks world, we call this a Digital System of Record (DSoR)

There is absolutely no technical or financial reason why 100% of landlords with high-risk buildings can’t set up a DSoR for each property right now, immediately, today.

Populating a DSoR to a consistent standard will give every landlord:

  • Certainty that essential information exists
  • Certainty that essential information can be found
  • Certainty that essential information is current and in date
  • Certainty that all stakeholders have seen the essential information
  • Certainty that all essential information is secure
  • Certainty that previous versions of essential information are retained

My consistent advice to dutyholders is: “if it’s not published in the DSoR then it doesn’t exist.” Adopting this binary approach to governance, risk and compliance at a per building level will drive a culture of compliance and personal responsibility.

Compliance is a science, not a belief.

Q: “Mr or Mrs dutyholder, do you have a current Fire Risk Assessment for building ‘X’ ?”

A: “I am pretty sure we have…” or “XXX team are usually very good at…” or “I trust XXX implicitly to do this…” are all the WRONG ANSWERS!

The correct answer is: “Yes, it is published in our DSoR, would you like to see it?”

With a DSoR in place and dutyholders performing the correct level of oversight, this would not have happened at Grenfell.

“Vital plans showing the layout of Grenfell Tower could not be found on the morning of the deadly fire”

…a station manager has told the inquiry.

Fire and life safety information is subject to constant review and change. It’s essential that key people (Fire Service, Building Control, Residents etc) have constant access to relevant information in the DSoR. The days of searching for a ‘firebox’ in a burning building is simply not acceptable in this digital age.

Over time, with regulation being adopted, a full log of documents, data and activity will be gathered for every high-risk building in the DSoR. Summary of this data will help the industry learn about management of risk, allowing them to adapt in an agile way.

I am talking at the Tall Building Fire Safety Conference in London next week on the subject of ‘Making Compliance Digital’

During the talk, I will challenge the audience of fire safety leaders to establish a Digital System of Record (DSoR) for every high-risk building – NOW!

Here at TrackMyRisks, we look forward to working with Landlords, Regulators, Fire Risk Consultants, Architects, Construction Managers, Fire Services and Residents to get this done.

Together we can save lives and careers.

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