Big Interview – Russ Timpson


Fire Buyer Editor, Rebecca Spayne catches up exclusively with Russ Timpson, Founder of the Tall Building Fire Safety Network (TBFSN) 

Please introduce yourself and what you do? 

Hello, my name is Russ Timpson and I am the organiser of the Tall Building Fire Safety Network (TBFSN). The aim of the TBFSN is to promote sharing of best practice solutions to all aspects of Tall Building Fire Safety. We have 1300 members in 28 Countries. My day job is a fire engineer specialising in Tall Buildings and particularly cladding systems post Grenfell. 

I am a former RN submariner, firefighter and chartered Fire Engineer. On leaving the Fire Service, I took up the position of Head of Safety for Virgin Atlantic Airways, leading a multi-disciplinary team of safety, health and environmental specialists. I was part of the response team that managed the crash-landing incident at Heathrow in 1999.  

In 2000, I was headhunted by BAA (UK airport operator) to lead the response to the major fire at Terminal 1, Heathrow Airport. In the following five years, I contributed to several major airport construction projects; including the skyway at Gatwick Airport and T5 at Heathrow Airport.  

I was awarded the HSE’s award for European Safety and Health at Work achievement 1998 and European Strategic Risk Management Award 2004, International Fire professional of the Year 2015. CIR International Risk Management Award 2017. In 2020. I was judged to be in the IFSEC top 10 influencers in the UK for fire safety. 

Alongside the Tall Building Fire Safety Network, I now work as a Consulting Resilience Engineer. Currently promoting the use of the ‘Fire Mark’ concept to improved occupant awareness of fire safety in buildings. I am the inventor of the Crisisboardroom™ concept for management of crisis events. Crisisboardroom™ has been deployed around the World to make businesses more resilient. 

You recently led a session at Fire Buyer Live, which is now available on demand, what did you cover in your session? 

My presentation was entitled ‘Mind the Gap – Realities of High-Rise Fire Safety’, and it covered the issues connected with the disparities between designed fire safety and existing buildings. I highlighted the fact that current fire safety guidance in England and Wales (ADB) is predicated on life safety and the lowest level of safety acceptable. Higher levels of safety are requested by insurers, but rarely delivered. The gap between designed fire safety and ‘as built’ fire safety may render the evacuation strategy of ‘stay put’ or ‘remain in place’ inappropriate.  

The Tall Buildings Fire Safety Network is holding a conference next month alongside FIREX, what can we expect from the conference? 

The 7th International High Rise / Tall Building Fire Safety conference (17 – 19th May) will deliver three days of world class presentation on all aspects of Tall Building Fire Safety. 

Over three days we will look at specific areas. Day 1, will focus on fire engineering and in particular tall building façade systems. The keynote address from Brian Meacham will detail the ‘Decade of Fire Safety’ that is about to be launched. This global initiative seeks to reduce fire losses across the World. Day 1 will also include presentations on the use of BIM in fire safety, Tall Timber and the latest guidance documents available. Day 2 is the fire risk management day with presentations on a diverse range of subjects and the latest research from UK Universities on evacuation of Tall Buildings. Day 3 will cover all aspects of Tall Building firefighting. Each day will also conclude with a panel debate made up from many leading figures in the industry. The debates include; Should Tall Buildings be built with only one staircase?, Is stay put still valid as an evacuation strategy? and Should firefighting breathing apparatus be used above the floor on fore in a tall building? 

To read the full interview, please see our latest issue here.

Media contact

Rebecca Morpeth Spayne,
Editor, International Fire Buyer
Tel: +44 (0) 1622 823 922

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