Friday, 23 June 2017

London Thunder

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Manchester and London are two of my very favourite cities and a particular couple that will not be beaten by terrorists, racists, malpractice, or austerity. These have been an unbelievable few weeks in terms of sad events and needless death, injury and damage.
You like me I am sure was truly horrified to see the Grenfell tower fire unfold, with such terrible loss of life, 79 people and displacement of residents. An incident that every landlord dreads and everyone I work with take very seriously in terms of fire risk assessments (FRA’s) and general communal block safety.

Of course, accurate up to date FRA’s do not guarantee complete and absolute safety, but these are structured to detect issues and failures, which can lead to increased risk of incidents such as this tragic one. Clearly too, as highlighted at Grenfell, quality and specification of materials is also crucial. Since last week, every single one of my clients I am working with, are giving FRA’s in their stock, additional attention and board members with management are very focused on this area. The eye is on the ball, so to speak.

Use of qualified experts is key and also additional emphasis during and after completion of major cladding and insulation works. While residents are generally involved in consultations, the recent tragedy puts additional emphasis on this aspect. Fast action to remedy issues found is key.

From a systems point of view, how do you manage and store your Social Housing Fire Risk Assessments? As an RSL, can you evidence how you keep your residents in tower blocks as safe as possible?

FRA’s in my system mind, are filed in a similar place to that other hot potato of socialhousing, and that is Gas Servicing (LGSR). I am still amazed so many organisations, even big ones, of over 5,000 homes, still often still resort to Excel or manual means. While this can be effective with conscientious staff and meticulous record keeping, it’s far from fool proof.  Rows & cells can easily be moved, hidden, deleted or corrupted.

Many landlords will no doubt now find that the previous focus on efficient gas servicing and in particular, integrating these regular and essential checks with integrated system, will now be the next drive coming from the regulator. It’s obvious too that it all makes sense. Integrated systems can ensure that all blocks and communal areas can be evidenced as having recent and adequate checks, safe materials, with exceptions and anomalies easily reported, flagged up and tasked to appropriate staff.

Integrated reporting can be managed so much easier, as can cross-referencing assessment data, images etc with other means of categorisation. I.E. Need category, composition of residents, leaseholders, shared owners etc. The latter is useful where improvement works are found necessary and in-depth consultations will need additional organisation.

Within most Integrated Housing Management Systems, attributes or components can be easily configured to record relevant information, dates, inspection name, findings, areas to examine and photo records evidencing survey. Where the attribute/component can be placed in a planned or cyclical cycle, a regular plan can schedule weekly, monthly or annual levels of survey easily.

If you have flexible mobile forms, that can collect the info, it should be an easy job to configure simple forms and interface seamlessly to attributes.

Use of a standalone database or application is not ideal, but can be better than a badly (cell protected) spreadsheet.

Social landlords can do all they can to ensure their blocks and communal areas are safe. It is also down to honest contractors, to use the safe and legal materials specified and take all reasonable safety precautions. As we have seen, hundreds of innocent people’s lives depend on everyone doing the right thing and not cutting any unnecessary corners. No doubt, the planned inquiry/inquest will hopefully reach conclusions on exactly what happened here. There will no doubt be many lessons for everyone to learn here.     

The Grenfell fire JustGiving page is here -

Related Post: Recognise your business change projects 


I would be pleased to connect with you on LinkedIn - Message me with any issues or queries, you would like to be explored in this blog. We generally receive a couple of suggestions each month.

Foals - London ThunderFoals - London Thunder.
(c) Tony Smith, Acutance Consulting 07854-655009

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