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Fire Service set to be involved in building design


BUILDING DESIGNERS will be forced to share information about new structures with fire chiefs, under plans being considered by government advisers.

They are drawing up plans to make buildings safer following the 11 September terrorist attacks in the US.

NCE understands that the government's Building Disaster Assessment Group (BDAG) is considering calls to involve the fire service in projects during the design and construction process. BDAG is advising the Department of Transport Local Government & the Regions.

The proposals would allow BDAG to discuss the structure and materials used. At the moment, the Fire Service's only involvement is to check building materials after a structure is built under the Fire Precaution Act.

'Where we have unique structures being built we need to be involved at an early stage to know how the building would behave if it was seriously compromised, ' said head of Hereford and Worcester fire brigade David O'Dwyer. He is advising BDAG.

'This information is not shared with fire departments. We would like the building industry to start thinking about how interaction could take place.'

Fire chiefs' demands follow the recent exclusion of firefighters from fire testing carried out on concrete frames at building research body BRE last September.

'The fire service is still not seen as an important player in the construction industry, ' said O'Dwyer.

'We know fire testing on reinforced concrete was done at BRE on 26 September. Given our interest in building materials, we felt that we could have benefited from an invite, ' said O'Dwyer.

'We still haven't been privy to the results. This might be an oversight on the part of those in the concrete industry. If so, they may like to consider us an interested partner.'

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