The Grenfell tragedy proved to be a pivotal moment for so many industries, not to mention fire safety. Outdated regulations, as well as a lack of transparency across the construction supply chain, meant change had to happen, fast, to ensure, as Lord Greenhalgh says; “a tragedy like the Grenfell Tower fire never happens again.”
Lessons have been learnt and change is happening. The Fire Safety Act received royal assent this year and The Building Safety Bill is going through Parliament to become law. This legislation will ensure fundamental improvements are made across building and fire safety standards and regulations.
What came out of the Grenfell inquiry was a lack of accountability and reporting, which has brought into relief a need for more transparent and connected processes. Outdated systems, filing and paper trails has meant that digitisation is a crucial next step for the industry, making it easier to access documents, certificates and gain a clear understanding of a building’s history.
During the second phase of the Grenfell inquiry, namely The Hackitt Review, Dame Judith Hackitt found that the handover of fire safety information was either not happening or going into an information ‘vacuum’, clearly showing a real need for a ‘golden thread’ of connected information and data.
It is clear that, when it comes to building, construction and fire safety, digitisation is key to change.
BS 8644. An overview
A key factor that has become clear throughout the fire and safety process is that, to date, digital adoption in the fire safety sector has been low to non-existent. However, digital technologies and data can provide critical information and frameworks, which is where the BS 8644 standard comes into play.
In response to the Hackitt inquiry, a new standard, BS 8644, has been created and is currently in open consultation.
Spearheaded by fire safety expert Aman Sharma, BS 8644 aims to provide a digital ‘golden thread’ of fire safety information throughout the lifecycle of a building and dovetails with ISO 19650. Essentially, it is a digital framework, which includes the use of BIM frameworks, to manage fire safety information.
What the standard will achieve
BS 8644 will set out to provide a set process for gathering, storing and handing over fire safety information digitally. This British Standard aims to produce a single document, a code of practice, to manage the digital workflow and presentation of all relevant fire safety information.
BS 8644 will ensure all fire safety data is easily captured, accessed and used by all parties throughout the lifetime of a project, and by those responsible for each stage – from design, construction, handover, soft-landing phase, occupation and maintenance, right through to emergency response.
In summary, BDO’s, asset owners and developers will have access to current and historical data to get a more holistic view of a building’s fire and safety record. Crucial data that, it emerged, was lacking and unaccounted for when it came to Grenfell.
‘BS 8644 aims to provide a digital ‘golden thread’ of fire safety information throughout the lifecycle of a building’
BS 8644 will also address all parts of the built environment, including existing stock, which allows a user of the standard to access relevant information or documentation at any stage in the life cycle of a building.
The big picture
BS 8644 is without a doubt a vital standard for the industry, but it’s also a single element of a bigger asset management picture. We all agree BS 8644 should be more than a box ticking exercise and it will help BDOs comply with tightening regulations, but we shouldn’t just focus on the digitisation of one part of the whole asset management cycle.
‘BS 8644 shouldn’t be a box-ticking exercise. Ultimately, the industry has to do the right thing and comply to standards’ Tom Boland, Zutec
From BIM to construction, right through to handing over to operations, having access to all documentation, certification and ‘as built’ records is vital in order to get a holistic view of a building. Automating and digitising the lifecycle process means that, should there be a change in asset owners or FM teams, information is easily accessed and stored across one central location.
As important as BS 8644 is for the industry, what will be key is the ability to make the capture, storage and handover of all building data as easy and seamless as possible. As we’ve learned with Grenfell, information can be compromised or lost, therefore leaving significant knowledge gaps over the life cycle of a building.
Asset Lifecycle Information Management (ALIM), is designed to address and close the information gap, ensure clearer reporting lines and accountability, as well as create workflows, capture, store and ensure collaboration across all your asset data.
The Zutec platform, manages your asset data and information and captures that digital thread. Our tools enable end-to-end digitisation from design to handover and beyond. Why not book a demo and learn more about our ALIM platform?
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