Fire & Rescue, Smart Home, Social Housing

IoT Roundtable in Focus:
In conversation with Jason Avery

As part of FireAngel’s IoT Roundtable in Focus series, we spoke with one of our expert panellists Jason Avery, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Fire & Rescue Service, to hear more about his role in planning and promoting safety education to communities.

Jason Avery is at the very forefront of Prevention and Protection in our communities and is the service lead for fire and rescue on several strategic partnership boards.

With decades of experience working within the fire industry, Jason was a key part of our Internet of Things (IoT) Roundtable panel exploring how technology is improving management of fire risk and empowering communities.

As the Assistant Director for Prevention and Protection with Hampshire and Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service, Jason is responsible for the strategic planning and delivery of statutory regulation under the Fire Safety Order and promoting safety education to communities.

My role requires me to work across a diverse range of technical and strategic leadership areas in Prevention and Protection,” Jason says. “The function comprises of a team of 93 staff and nearly 100 volunteers who collectively are responsible for High Rise Building Inspections and regulation/enforcement of the Fire Safety Order, Fire Engineering, Reducing Vulnerability, Children and Young People, Safeguarding, Fire Investigation and our Primary Authority Scheme.

I’m also the service lead for fire and rescue on several strategic partnership boards – including the Supporting Families Programme Board, Hampshire PREVENT Board, PREVENT Board Training Sub-Group, Mental Health Partnership Board, Hampshire Community Safety Strategy Board and the Hampshire Health and Wellbeing Board.

“This enables me to work with partners proactively in achieving shared outcomes such as embedding the NFCC Memorandum of Understanding with Care Quality Commission in Hampshire and Isle of Wight.”

The number of fire deaths has plateaued in recent years, in your opinion what action is required to kickstart the downward trend again?

Jason Avery

Jason believes as an industry, we need to improve the way we use and share data across the board and invest more in resources that focus on prevention.

Better data sharing between partners will help us fully understand risk and vulnerability in communities,” Jason says. “We also need more resources and funding being put into both prevention and protection, to get as far upstream as possible to make buildings and the people who live and use them safer.

“The statutory requirements for smoke and carbon monoxide detection should be more robust too, as seen in the devolved administrations and overseas.”

Adapting and evolving to keep up with a changing fire safety landscape

Jason Avery

During the Roundtable, Jason discussed that while several regulations recently introduced have made homes safer, how the Fire & Rescue Service handle fires is also changing.

“It’s incredible to consider the advancements in the last 20 years,” Jason says. “Using compressed-air foam systems that reduce collateral damage, for example. We want to prevent those fires in the first instance, and emerging technology gives us better insight into what communities are like and how people behave in their home environment.

“We’re very interested in how we influence and educate communities and individuals who are vulnerable to adjust behaviours, make earlier interventions, and improve safety.”

But what about fire safety of the future, what does Jason believe this could look like?

In private dwellings, we have no legal precedent to cross the threshold unless there is an emergency, so the referral pathways need to be better established—for example, going out to meet the public, educating them, and identifying those that are vulnerable,” Jason said.

“At the moment, we heavily rely on upstream referrals from agencies, such as health, ambulance service or housing providers. Still, with more data and better collaboration, it would help us prevent more fires.

“There is a significant opportunity to use technology to track how people behave in their domestic environment, in terms of leaving lights on or having sensors that detect motionless people in buildings, from which other emergency services could benefit.

“But to use these solutions and realise their potential, it requires buy-in from key stakeholders, including local authorities.”

When the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted how often people can visit family members, what could it mean to have the ability to detect changing behaviours behind closed doors?

“The data that IoT can provide will be more revealing and allow us to map trends,” Jason says.

Over time, this will enable us to identify increasing vulnerability in our communities such that we can focus our resources better to respond to this changing risk.”

In your opinion, should the updated Scottish fire safety regulations be introduced to the rest of the UK?

Yes,” agrees Jason, “as this will place a statutory duty on those responsible to improve fire safety measures across a wider range of premises than is currently legislated for.

Watch the full Roundtable to hear Jason Avery and the rest of our expert panel discuss how technology is improving management of fire risk and empowering connected communities.

Jason Avery