Fire Buyer catches up exclusively with Andy Frankum, Chair of the National Social Housing Fire Strategy Group
Could you tell us a little bit about your background and how you got to where you are today?
I have been a health and safety professional for over 20 years with a focus on improving organisations to deliver a positive culture. I am a founding member of the National Social Housing Fire Strategy Group (NSHFSG) and work tirelessly with other sector colleagues to drive improvements across and within the social housing sector.
What motivated the founding of the National Social Housing Fire Strategy Group?
The National Social Housing Fire Strategy Group (NSHFSG) is a voluntary organisation made up of competent fire safety professionals that work for or are appointed by social housing providers and local authorities in England and Wales.
The group was motivated and born from the aftermath of a previous tragedy at Lakanal House in 2009 in Camberwell, London. There was a lot of confusion, not a lot of competence and a real need to come together to share good practice and bring providers together to improve the state of fire safety, especially if lessons were to be learnt. It has always been about the human impact for us, to preserve life and property.
The group has evolved over time, and we also have a number of organisations who operate in the sector to provide input and advice onto our Executive committee. Organisations like the National Fire Chiefs Council, National Housing Federation, Local Authority Building Control and the Fire Protection Association to name a few.
It was recently the five-year anniversary of the Grenfell Tower disaster, placing fire safety at the top of everyone’s list. What has Grenfell taught us?
Firstly, I would like to continue to offer my thoughts and prayers for everyone affected by this terrible event and we strive every day to influence and change practice to ensure residents remain safe in the future.
Fire Safety was always at the top of our list. 5 years on – a lot of change has happened, but there is still so much more to do. Grenfell has taught us that de-regulation, financial drivers, complacency, reliance on standards, failure to deliver safe outcomes, bias and not listening to the very people we are trying to protect has all contributed to these failures.
We continue to strive for more longer lasting reform and in the meantime our members are doing everything they can to ensure residents are as safe as possible in their respective organisations, challenging decision making and providing competent advice and guidance to their employers to ensure their residents are safe.
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