President's Page February 2017


Ben Bradford

What’s been happening?

PP Feb 17


        We now have a new BS 9999: 2017


Following a review period that started with an initial meeting on 29 September 2014 and after resolution of an extensive list of comments; the revision of BS 9999 Fire safety in the design, management and use of buildings – Code of practice has now been published (January 2017).  

In broad terms the entire document has been updated to include revised and new references, recommendations for new or improved technology (such as watermist suppression, voice alarms and fire curtains), corrections, clarifications to reduce ambiguities and improved diagrams to better illustrate concepts. 

Key headline items that are likely to have the greater impact for fire safety professionals, architects, designers and enforcers are:
● Scope for the document excludes residential buildings covered by the related BS 9991 code of practice.
● All fire precautions, as far as was practicable, now relate to risk profiles rather than building types such as assembly. To achieve this, the tables for fire resistance have been rewritten.
● Descriptions for assessing the category of fire growth rate have been updated and examples made more relevant to typical building design.
● Management section 4 was largely rewritten. In the 2008 publication there were three levels of management, with a comment that the lowest level (3) might not meet the minimum requirements to comply with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. This has now been reduced to two levels of management with the concept of Level 2 as the minimum requirement and Level 1 an enhanced provision. Third party accreditation (in line with PAS 7) is also recognised as an industry benchmark for demonstrating excellence.
● Buildings with an atrium will now only need to adopt the special measures in the annexes where the atrium compromises compartmentation, which brings this into line with the Approved Document B.
● The annexes on atrium provisions have also been rewritten with new flowcharts to improve the logic of the decision making along with the exemplars.
● Annex E for shopping centres has also been changed to align with risk profiles and to remove duplication or conflict with the main document. This included specification of fire compartment sizes and modification in the way mall population and exit width are calculated.
● Final exit door widths also had a rethink, with calculation to allow the doors to remain the equal in width to the stair (modification to stair capacity) plus inclusion of options for stairs serving floors above and below the exit level.
This, I can testify as a member of the review panel for FSH/14/-/7, is a simplification of all the hard work that went into producing this extensive update.

Regional visits

Having just returned from a weekend visiting the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, I’d like to thank both regions for making me feel most welcome. It was great to visit Dublin and Belfast where I met members from both regions. In Dublin I enjoyed a CPD seminar on the changes proposed to their national fire safety guidance. In Belfast I enjoyed three presentations, one on broadband and two on energy performance and the latest thinking on the conservation of fuel and power. I’ll be returning to Ireland in March 2017 and also September 2017, delivering some presentations and following up on initial discussions with these two regions.

This month I’ll also be visiting regional AGMs in Scotland, the North West and the Eastern Region. 

Many of my Presidential pages have talked about the objectives I have set myself this year, the first of which was to inspire others to become globally responsible building engineers. Many of you will know I am running the London Marathon this year for two worthy charities, Engineers without Borders and Action against Hunger.

I’d like to use this month’s Presidential page to talk about Engineers without Borders.

Engineers without Borders

People, everywhere, deserve a world where they can achieve their potential and live healthy, happy lives. The reality today is far from this and many people still lack access to basic services. All of us are at risk from resource constraints, the effects of climate change, increasing urbanisation and a global population that is rapidly expanding. 

We know that engineering is the solution. We know that engineering is capable of addressing global challenges and enabling sustainable human development. 

Engineers without Borders UK leads a movement for change by recognising and promoting the vital role of engineering and engineers in our collective future.

Engineers without Borders and I believe that by highlighting the importance of putting people first we can inspire engineers to place much greater importance on whether engineering solutions are ethical, culturally sensitive and environmentally sound. We think that if people understand and appreciate the potential impact that engineering, and engineers, can have on our lives then more people will become engineers. The charity can enable their partners, and the communities they work in, to enhance their engineering capacity and use it to catalyse the transformative change that we seek around the world. Through engineering, we can influence individuals to be active global citizens, and organisations and society to be more globally responsible. 

It’s important that the people for whom we are creating the future, our children and our grandchildren, are informed and educated about what that future might look like and give them the opportunity and ability to change it. To create a different future, we need the next generation to be global citizens today and the globally responsible engineers of tomorrow.  

Turning to CABE, our Association’s principal objective is ‘To promote and advance the knowledge, study and practice of each and all of the arts and sciences concerned with building technology, planning, design, construction, maintenance and repair of the built environment and the creation and maintenance of a high standard of professional qualification, conduct and practice’. In doing so we are to ‘encourage and facilitate co-operation between the construction professions’.

I would argue that our members are uniquely placed to a valuable contribution to society at a local, national and global level.  

Please do check out the following website and feel free to get in touch with them. It’s worth checking out their regional membership groups:

I am sure they would be happy to meet with our regional officers, deliver a CPD presentation on their work and discuss how we can work together at a regional level to inspire the next generation of globally responsible engineers.

Ben Bradford