Ecclesiastical Blog, June 2017: ‘Property Owners Risk; The Hidden Dangers’.BACK TO BLOG
23rd Jun 2017
Just when you may have thought that mandatory fire safety management controls are rigorous and robust, the Grenfell fire tragedy occurs. With at least 79 dead and dozens still in hospital, it is clear that this is one of the biggest fire disasters in recent UK history.
There are many, many issues emerging from this dreadful tragedy, and some are naturally highly relevant to property owners, residents and insurers. Among these issues is that the use of composite panelling fitted for insulation, aesthetics or acoustic abatement reasons can have the potential to cause or contribute to a major fire if not properly fire retarded (treated) or if incorrectly installed to manufacturers’ guidelines.
Commercial Property owners who purchase commercial cover can and do have a wide range of buildings and premises with various activities conducted within. Commercial buildings can be constructed of a wide range of proprietary materials, some fire rated and approved and some perhaps of a lesser quality and standard. Commercial property portfolios can include industrial units, residential apartments, office blocks, manufacturing plants, etc. that can all pose varying levels of fire risk.
‘Old school’ insurance fire risk assessment seeks to understand all building materials, fire compartmentation, adequacy of water supplies and fire detection. Buildings’ separation from surrounding property is important, as is estimated maximum loss value and the potential fire spread.
Grenfell has reawakened concerns over the adequacy of fire safety management imposed by local authorities and will concern Property Owner portfolio insurers who may well revisit business held to reassess fire loss potentials.
The UK has identified another 600 buildings with a similar cladding and of the first 3 cases to be tested, all were confirmed as ‘combustible material’.
To this end, the Irish Government is asking all local authorities to revisit this matter and report their findings.
As insurers, there remains a duty to fully and adequately assess property fire risks and, where feasible, to insist on robust fire safety systems to underpin and promote the very best residencies’ fire safety and evacuation procedures.
Ecclesiastical is a property led insurer providing a specific Property Owners product for brokers. Risk management and appropriate fire controls are key considerations and mid to large buildings will be surveyed and assessed to mitigate fire risk.
Now more than ever, property fire risk assessment and adequate safety engineering are essential tools that must be used to avoid the avoidable and help make sure these tragedies are resigned to the past and never repeated.
Michael Brennan 23.6.17
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