The Grenfell Tower tragedy has affected many areas of the construction industry. More than just cladding itself, there have been major implications for other areas concerning the fire safety of buildings and their occupants. As one of these areas, smoke control has come under scrutiny in recent discussions. One of the main reasons outdated systems are not replaced is the cost involved in the process. In order to manage this, building owners can consider smoke control leasing options that allow them to spread the charges over time. In this article, we explore the issues that lead to this situation and suggest options to manage the complications arising from it.
Significantly, there is evidence some life-safety systems have not been maintained correctly and defects have not been dealt with promptly. For example, before its refurbishment Grenfell Tower was one of the buildings where a defective system was recognised. However, nearly a year later there was no resolution to this well-known issue. It is clear that the implications of incorrect maintenance and delays to fixing defective smoke control systems are major. In some scenarios, they can result in life-threatening situations for both building occupants and firefighters, which need to be avoided at all costs.
The new Building Safety Bill
Putting maintenance regimes under the spotlight
According to the new Building Safety Bill, all buildings within its scope will require a Building Safety Case. This case will set out what fire safety measures are present as well as how they are maintained and tested.
Most importantly, building owners will no longer be able to turn a blind eye to smoke control maintenance. Unfortunately, this means they will also face an unprecedented need for investment in their buildings to bring them up to standard. Meanwhile, a lack of capacity is expected in the smoke control industry to assess buildings, make recommendations and carry out the work to bring them up to standard.
Building owners can be trapped in a vicious circle
On many occasions, we see inadequate systems when we carry out assessments in the field. A typical scenario is one where the smoke control system is deteriorating and leading to ever-increasing maintenance charges. This in turn creates a lack of funds available to replace the system creating a vicious cycle where the broken system has to be patched up instead of being replaced. This is particularly the case for systems with closed protocol software. Due to the nature of closed protocol software, a sole supplier is able to attend to faults which can result in high charges for minor works. In situations like this, smoke control leasing is an option that allows building owners to react in a timely manner to avoid expensive call-out charges and guarantee the safety of occupants.
Our Smoke Control Maintenance and Repair Services
Group SCS has developed a range of services designed to help building owners find a way out of such situations. By spreading the costs over a long period of time, building owners can replace obsolete equipment with fully compliant systems before further issues arise. Additionally, our systems come with built-in safety features that will improve the safety of systems long-term. We offer an end to end service with transparent costs to bring smoke control systems up to the required standards. To illustrate, our process generally goes through the following steps:
- An inspection and assessment service based on our popular Guide to Surveying High Rise Residential Smoke Control Systems.
- Implementing our unique Retro Kit product range designed for easy selection and replacement of most popular legacy systems.
- Installation is carried out by our nationwide network of trained and competent Approved Installers who can maintain the system at competitive rates.
All in all, our smoke control leasing option can result in a net saving due to the reduction of maintenance and call-out charges. Other benefits include:
- There is no large capital outlay so you can choose the system you need rather than the system you can afford.
- By leasing the equipment, you can get the optimum equipment at a more manageable rate.
- Fixed costs mean easier budgeting, you can be sure that what is quoted is what you will pay.
- If your needs change you can upgrade the system within the lease period, we will just amend the agreement to incorporate the new equipment.
- All systems are fully tax-deductible.