Fire safety and fire compliance are two of the issues that Members frequently mention as key priorities, particularly since the introduction of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (RRO) which has made it all the more important that NHS bodies can demonstrate that they have taken all the necessary steps to promote a safe environment. Key challenges for the NHS include:
- ensuring the Trust has the right information to meet statutory obligations including the RRO, the implications of which are only fairly recently becoming clear
- planning future investment to get the most cost effective solution, and
- getting value for money/reducing waste from system maintenance
HFC has worked with Nulogic Fire Ltd, our selected partner on fire safety issues, to develop solutions to each of these challenges and offer more cost effective approaches that offer both quality and the potential for major, on-going savings. Members can access them through their membership: as with all of our member offers, Trusts can utilise them without having to go out to tender, saving time and money, because their membership makes them a co-producer, hence meeting most Trust Standing Financial Instructions.
Fire Risk Assessment Programme
Through our collaboration with Nulogic Fire Ltd we have developed products aimed at helping members to meet their statutory obligation and achieve full compliance with the Regulations. The most popular of these is the Fire Risk Assessment (FRA) programme. This is designed to capture and record all the critical information necessary to comply with the demands of the RRO. Following discussions with the Department of Health, it became clear that there was no standard template for collecting this data. As a result, we have produced a method of collating these records that not only meets the needs of assessors, but also provides strong, reliable management information.
This means that the FRA process offers NHS bodies major benefits in each of the three most important elements of fire safety management:
- Robust assessment and data collection
- The holding and formulating of the data to meet the demands of the enforcing authority and
- Using the data to inform the Trust’s investment strategies so that the most efficient and effective use is made of resources and future risks are minimised
Planning Future Investment – cost effectiveness
Whilst robust data and full compliance with governance requirements are vitally important, it is from this third benefit that the NHS can gain significantly. Together with Nulogic, we have further developed the FRA offer to include a Client Managed option. This option enables the client to use their existing assessment teams and take our software product to complete phases 2 and 3 as set out above. This means that the Trust can make full use of its existing staff (and their valuable site knowledge). However, an even greater advantage is that this system is the only one on the market that provides the facility in a comprehensive and management-friendly way to take the outcomes and ensure that tasks to meet the demand are properly allocated and managed.
We can provide you with a demonstration of the product so you can see the benefits and potential for yourself – just get in touch and we can set something up.
Getting the best value/saving money on System Maintenance
Members tell us that one of their major concerns regarding fire alarm systems is over the extent to which they are getting Value For Money on system maintenance. Trusts rely heavily on the Service Engineer testing and recording in accordance with relevant standards. However, feedback from a number of hospitals has shown this is not the case – shortcuts have been taken and in some cases, parts of the system missed completely. This has meant that Estates teams have not been able to manage risks effectively and have been wasting money on unnecessary checks.
These revelations are clearly a matter of significant concern. As a result of Members raising these issues, HFC has again been working with Nulogic Fire Ltd to develop a monitoring system that not only alerts the client to missed sections but also predicts the rate of maintenance required so that unnecessary and expensive work can be avoided. A further feature is the ability to monitor the service provided remotely. For instance, cleaning and changing perfectly good detectors is not only a waste of time and money but is also unnecessarily disruptive to the core work of healthcare.
We have already developed a system that has been shown to work at test stage. We are now checking on its roll out across the full range of systems. We expect it to be finalised and ready to offer to Members in a few months.
We think this is a very exciting development which offers the NHS a real opportunity to get better knowledge and control and avoid unnecessary expenditure. We will provide updates as testing progresses then but if you would like to know more and be one of the first to take advantage of this new product when it is ready for release, please contact us now so that we can keep you up to date.
Over the last two years, HFC has been working with national bodies to promote the interests of HFC Members. For instance, we have represented members at the London Fire Safety Concordat, and taken up the invitation to join the housing sector on a series of road shows – one has already taken place in Exeter with further events planned for London and Lincoln.