Mount Green Housing Association

Fire Safety Inspections for Extensive Housing Association Portfolio

When an extensive programme of block fire safety inspections posed a number of challenges, not least a requirement to accommodate working around vulnerable residents, and a need to meet rapidly changing COVID-19 related health and safety protocols, the dedicated fire safety consultancy team at FFT stepped in with a solution. And there was an added incentive for residents…

The client

Mount Green Housing Association is an independent housing association. Established in 1962, it owns and manages approximately 1,700 homes across Surrey and Sussex, with accommodation offered including general needs, keyworker, independent living and shared ownership.

The project

Our brief was to undertake Fire Safety Inspections across a portfolio of residential blocks, supported housing schemes and independent living schemes for the elderly.

We were primarily required to take on a fire safety surveying role, attending each block individually in order to survey and provide information on the following:

• The condition and integrity of fire doors to flats, communal areas and service cupboards
• Automatic Fire Detection provisions within communal areas and individual residential units
• Compartmentation issues
• Roof void issues

The aim was to identify any potential compartmentation issues and serious fire risks, and to provide comprehensive reports with supporting photographic evidence for each block.

Ultimately, we were required to draw up an action plan for proposed remedial works, together with costings based on an agreed schedule of rates.

The challenges

The portfolio was considerable in size, and it soon became clear that existing inspection templates would not be sufficient to collate the information required to compile the necessary comprehensive reports for each property.

In addition, the properties were spread across a wide geographical area. What’s more, there was also a need to access individual private accommodation for some of the inspections. With vulnerable residents in occupation however, this was not going to be straightforward to arrange.

Finally, mid-project, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, bringing with it a raft of restrictions and vital health and safety protocols.

Our solutions

In response to the challenge of the insufficient inspection template, we designed a bespoke template which was capable of capturing the extensive sets of vital data that were required to draw up the remedial works action plan. The templates automatically populated our reports, which saved valuable time and money for the client.

To ensure the safety of the vulnerable residents in occupation, and to make certain that we caused the least amount of disruption possible, we devised a flexible programme of inspections for the entire portfolio.

It was important to accommodate the requirements of the supporting housing teams so that they were able to accompany residents during our inspection visits. So we came up with schedules of inspections on a fortnightly basis so that residents could be notified in advance, and arrangements made for a chaperone.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit mid-project and lockdown restrictions were imposed, we revised the inspection programme to incorporate all the necessary health and safety protocols in line with Government guidance, ensuring everyone involved was kept safe throughout the inspection visits.

Streamlined communication was crucial to the efficiency and delivery of the project. Regular project updates were provided throughout, with the client kept in the loop regarding any required alterations to the programme in response to the changing situation.

Added value

When additional defects and deficiencies were identified outside the scope of the inspections, these were reported immediately to the housing management teams.

We also provided advice and guidance on other building fire safety matters, and compiled and presented web-based fire safety training for the housing management teams

In addition, as an incentive and thank you to residents who kindly allowed us access to their private accommodation, we came up with the idea of entering them into a raffle to win an iPad. An added incentive that went down very well!