A simple but very powerful exercise by contractor Willmott Dixon to increase fire safety in its buildings is one of three initiatives to receive awards from the British Woodworking Federation (BWF).
The awards have particular relevance in light of the recent Grenfell Tower disaster and the investigation by Camden Council into the state of fire doors in its tower blocks.
Willmott Dixon received the award after carrying out the largest ever fire door inspection during Fire Door Safety Week, involving 3,000 employees who were urged to check fire doors in their buildings and to report any concerns.
Hannah Mansell, technical manager at the BWF, said:
“This was such an easy thing to do – promoting Fire Door Safety Week to staff, and just asking them to carry out a simple 5 Step Check on the fire doors nearest to them. I really hope other employers and building owners will do the same this year and support the campaign.
“The Fire Door Safety Week awards are our way of saying thank you, and recognising the creativity, commitment and collaboration shown in these initiatives to take what we’ve started, to own it, and to spread the word about the critical importance of fire doors in saving lives and protecting property.”
Two other awards were also presented.
One went to Rutendo Chitiga and Terry Brown from the Balmoral Estate Tenants Association in Southend-on-Sea, who organised an annual fire safety campaign for their community, building on the information and resources made available through the BWF’s Fire Door Safety Week initiative.
Their campaign was launched after the death of expectant mother Khabi Abrey and her unborn child, following an arson attack in the building where she lived.
After the fire it was realised that the residents did not have the necessary fire safety information about what to do in the event of a fire. Residents were also unaware of the critical role that fire doors play in holding back fire and smoke. Many residents said that they were unaware of what to do in a fire and didn’t know that their flat front doors were in fact fire doors.
Earlier this month, Rutendo and Terry arranged for the distribution of fire door safety information to residents, door-to-door visits by local fire officers to test smoke alarms and a week of educational activities with local schools. They also held an exhibition of artwork created by the Turning Tides Kids Club, sponsored by BWF-Certifire Fire Door Scheme and launched a book of poetry written by Khabi, and unveiled a plaque in her memory.
London Fire Brigade Assistant Deputy Commissioner, Dan Daly was also presented with a Fire Door Safety Week award for the LFB Fire Safety Team, for its ongoing support and commitment to the campaign.
Hannah Mansell said:
“Checking a fire door and reporting concerns to those responsible for fire safety is an easy thing to do. Given the recent tragedy in West London, we really hope other building owners and employers will do the same and ensure that the building that they are legally responsible for is fire safe, and that the residents are informed about the fire safety plan for the specific building.”
This year’s Fire Door Safety Week 2017 will take place from 25 September – 1 October 2017. The focus of this year’s campaign will be on high risk buildings and users, such as rented private accommodation, HMO, and specialised housing for vulnerable residents. The campaign will also focus on how to stay safe in a fire and the risk of smoke inhalation, one of the often overlooked causes of death and long-term illness caused by fires in buildings.