Fire Safety, Social Housing

What does the BSI Fire Risk Assessment change mean for vulnerable residents in social housing?

Following the threat of legal action from a bereaved Grenfell family, the British Standards Institution (BSI) has withdrawn its guidance on fire risk assessments.

Previously the BSI’s fire risk assessment said it was ‘not normally practicable’ to identify people with a disability or for landlords to make provision for their evacuation in a fire. However, for the estimated 43% of social-housing residents who live with a long-term disability, this is a cause for concern.

A need to raise standards for an ageing population

BSI Fire Risk Assessment

The BSI’s guidance withdrawal follows the government’s social-housing whitepaper, published in November 2020, which also saw pressure placed at the feet of social-housing landlords to further enhance safety in the sector.

Brought about by the tragic events of the Grenfell Tower fire in June 2017, the whitepaper provides an opportunity to raise standards in a sector that covers four million households.

FireAngel’s Co-founder and Chief Product Officer Nick Rutter, outlined how there is a rising pressure on social housing landlords to safeguard vulnerable residents.

“There is a growing trend towards an ageing population, many of whom are living with underlying health conditions and/or disabilities.

“Cognitive and/or physical impairments that may arise in ageing populations, can influence the probability of a fire, the residents’ ability to detect a fire in its early stages and promptly evacuate the property when required.”

Taking this into account, the use of cutting-edge technology has the potential to prevent life-threatening events.

Harnessing technology to protect and prevent

Connected technology provides the capability to remotely monitor individual residents’ home environment 24/7, offering a unique opportunity to mitigate risk and fire prevention for each property.

“Installing connected fire-safety technologies also underpins the principles of the Building Safety Bill, which aims to provide transparent accountability for safety throughout a building’s life cycle, including provision of fire safety and related equipment such as smoke alarms, heat alarms and carbon-monoxide alarms,” adds Nick Rutter.

“Cutting-edge connected safety offers a quick and easy-to-install safeguard, which can be achieved by interlinking alarms with wireless technology, so that if one alarm is triggered, the remaining alarms and ancillary devices are immediately activated, alerting a person with impaired hearing to the unfolding fire.”

A person-centred approach with the IoT

BSI Fire Risk Assessment

Using remote alarm monitoring, Internet of Things (IoT) and predictive data analysis, connected safety technology has the potential to identify a fire risk before it escalates to a 999 call.

Not only can the data monitored in real-time alert social landlords to the status of alarms in the property when they are triggered, but also when they need to be replaced.

Prevention is always the priority.

Connection to the IoT enables landlords to monitor important features such as:

  • The building’s age and condition
  • Individual property environments
  • The wear and tear of electrical appliances

“Being able to combine this information with data on individuals’ physical or mental status is also important. If a person has dementia, is partially sighted or uses a wheelchair, they may be slow to respond in the event of a fire,” Nick Rutter says.

“Using connected technology, a person-centred approach can be applied to fire-safety procedures and systems. Adopting this approach means safeguards can be implemented, managed and maintained according to a vulnerable resident’s individual needs, helping to support many of the requirements set out in the charter for social-housing residents.”

Protect vulnerable residents through innovative technology

Ensure vulnerable residents are protected with a trusted, reliable and future-proof solution. At FireAngel, we’re leading the way in IoT and AI innovations through the development of advanced safety solutions tailored to the needs of housing providers.

Since 1998, over 50 million FireAngel devices have been installed and protection provided for over 15 million homes. We’re committed to delivering a safer society through data-driven approaches, patented connected technology and trusted partnerships.

For more information about FireAngel Connected or to arrange a demo, get in touch with our expert team.