Post the Grenfell fire in June 2017, both the insurance and lending industry have become extremely risk averse regarding fire.

This is having a major impact on Professional Indemnity cover across the whole built environment sector, which includes fire risk assessors, fire engineers, architects and building control when assessing risks associated with fire.

We understand that the Government is aware of all these growing problems and has been endeavouring to find a way through by holding meetings with insurers and lenders alike – but so far there has been no breakthrough!

It remains the policy of the Institute to recommend to all members that they protect themselves with adequate Public Liability and Professional Indemnity insurance cover. Along with updated CPD we certainly require it of all those members who are listed on our Tiered Fire Risk Assessors Register (TFRAR).

Unfortunately, at renewal of policies a number of our members have found that their insurer had inserted (without prior notification in many cases) a caveat in their policy document that they would not be insured for inspecting and reporting on external wall finishes like cladding on buildings.  It appears that this caveat may have been inserted by a number of insurers into policies for fire risk assessors and fire engineers.

The Institute raised this concern with a number of insurers, brokers, the Association of British Insurers (ABI). and even the Head of the Home Office Fire Safety Reform Team. It seems that brokers themselves are finding it difficult to arrange cover with some insurance companies.

The Institute is grateful to those members on our TFRAR who responded to a recent survey on their particular insurers, information from which was most useful.

It appears that the companies, Hiscox, XL Catlin (AXA) and Merkel are the most high profile in the PI market, albeit at varying premium costs. Unfortunately, only six of the members who responded to the survey reported having suitable cover to permit cladding inspections etc.

Other members continue to carry out fire risk assessments but have a caveat included in their policies to the effect that they are excluded from undertaking cladding work.

 

RICS Form EWS1

Members may recall that in order to help move the housing market forward the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) designed the form EWS1 which they suggested could be signed by fire engineers to approve or otherwise, what material(s) was on the external walls of buildings

In June 2020 we advised our members NOT to use the form as to do so could compromise their insurance cover if it does not allow them to inspect cladding on buildings. This was because, by implication, they could ultimately be held liable for their observations when completing the EWS1.  The advice we gave members was further supported by a guidance document issued by the Fire Industries Association (FIA) which we circulated to all members and is posted on our website.

Our Chairman has recently been in contact with the RICS regarding any update on the use of the form. The response was inconclusive as the RICS said they had only recently clarified where they see the form being used for buildings below 18m in height. [Details can be found in the Q&A (fire safety) section of their website on  www.risc.org.] It was reported that they are close to releasing a guidance note for valuers which will include a risk matrix.

Understandably, this is somewhat complicated but is being delivered at pace despite the complexity of the issue.

 

 

Support for our Members

The Institute’s investigations have narrowed down the field to three brokers and insurers currently covering our members. These are believed the most likely to understand the work and competency of fire risk assessors in the market.

Details of these are included in the table below, which we hope will be of use to members at this problematic time.

We regret that due to the circumstances in the market generally, none are currently able to offer a discount to IFSM members.

 

Broker Contact name Address & details Insurance companies
Anchorman
Insurance
Gillian Cross
Company Secretary
 

Anchorman House
8 Cranmere Road
Oakehampton
DEVON EX20 1UE

01837 650030

www.anchormaninsurance.co.uk

 

 

Hiscox UK

XL Catlin (AXA)

Merkel

 

Bennett Christmas Insurance Brokers

(Formerly Sennett Insurance)

 

Matt Goodwin
PI Underwriter

 

1 Oak House
Woodlands Court
Albert Drive
Burgess Hill
RH15 9TN

01444 228175

matt.goodwin@bennettchristmas.com

 

 

Various in market

Griffith and Armour Craig Roberts
Professional Risks Director
 

One America Square
17 Crosswall
London EC3N 2AD

0203 409 8571

croberts@griffithsandarmour.com

 

Various in market as would be a new project for them (Don’t usually deal with FIRE).

 

 

As you will be aware from previous reports we have done over the last couple of years, we have been deeply involved with the Competence Steering Group (CSG) which was the group that formed after the DJH report and was set up following the Grenfell tragedy to improve competence in the built environment.  The group covered all of the building industry with a large number of working groups.  We were represented and were pro-active on WG4 and WG8 whilst commenting on other groups where we felt we had an input.  The work has now finished and The Competence Steering Group (CSG) is publishing its final report, Setting the Bar, on Monday 5 October.

This report marks a major milestone for the industry, representing two years of work that has brought 150 organisations together to ‘set the bar’ for much needed improvement in competence and how it is assessed. It represents significant industry progress since the CSG’s Interim Report, Raising the Bar, published in August 2019.

Alongside Setting the Bar, the CSG is also publishing a separate report covering the new role of Building Safety Manager. Safer people, safer homes: Building Safety Management.

Below are the two press releases, Setting the Bar and Working Group 8’s report, Safer people, safer homes: Building Safety Management.

Links to the actual reports are embedded within the press releases so you can access them direct from the links below.

 

Competence requirements set out for new role of Building Safety Manager >>

Built environment and fire industries set out blueprint for improving competence and driving culture change >>

 

Working Group 4 is continuing its work both into a National COP for fire risk assessors  as well as forming a career pathway for those who want to enter the ‘world’ of fire risk assessors!

Here is the latest copy of the draft Building Safety Bill which is going through its consultation stages at the moment.  It is different from the draft fire safety bill as it deals with the wider issues from the DJH report dealing directly with building safety and how it is regulated and managed in the future.  A lot of reading and the bill and its systems appear quite complex but I am sure in the months ahead all will be revealed!

Download the draft Building Safety Bill here or view below

Draft_Building_Safety_Bill_PART_1

Here is the latest update to Approved Document B (Volumes 1 and 2). The changes come into effect on 26th November 2020 in England, they appertain to blocks of flats/apartments and they focus on a reduction in the ‘trigger’ height of the building for sprinklers (18m down to 11m) and also wayfinding signage for firefighters.

 

Amendments to the Approved Documents (Volume 1 & 2)

 

 

We must inform you that we have had numerous complaints from various individuals (not members) stating and giving screen shot evidence, that one of our members is making racist comments and threats.

Firstly, some are stating the individual is employed by us. That is not so. We can confirm most strongly that none of our employees are involved with any of these comments or actions.

We are keeping you in the picture as we have been told by some of these complainants that the social media post has gone ’viral’ so this is just in case you come across them.

We, as a non-political professional body, distance ourselves from any such comments or actions. We can confirm that we will be instigating a full and impartial investigation which will be undertaken under our code of ethics and discipline.

We will also be instructing our staff to pass on all relevant emails we have received to the Derbyshire Constabulary.

 

David White FIFSM (Life)
President IFSM

The IFSM are currently in production of a customised qualification aimed at providing basic underlying principles which are required prior to undertaking Fire Risk Assessments (FRAs).

See further details here

Professionally printed double sided plastic membership cards for IFSM Members are now available to buy online from our website.  Please click here for further details and to order.