Fire Safety: Where does the real responsibility lie?
A recent heart-breaking event in Marsascala was one of the key topics discussed at the seminar ‘Raising the bar’ earlier this week. Taking place only days after the tragic loss of a young man’s life through smoke inhalation, this perhaps unfortunately timed, yet clearly critically needed seminar, was an opportunity for various leaders in the industry and politicians to come together and explore a more cohesive approach to fire safety regulations in Malta and Gozo.
The announcement of an upcoming building sector reform, provided the perfect backdrop for leaders in the property and construction industry to discuss key topics on how best to move forward. It was clear to everyone involved the disjointed relationship between existing, relatively unenforced fire safety regulations, and the entities that can help implement or enforce them, could no longer be sustained. The biggest question raised, where does the responsibility lie?
Liz Barbaro Sant, Director at Alberta Group, stressed the importance of a moral obligation by each party involved – from the owner to the contractor, the designer to the engineer, to the eventual landlord and installers – to stop passing the proverbial ‘responsibility buck’ and equally, stop cutting corners when lives are stake.
At a time when all the fractions involved in construction will be held accountable for any tragedies, down to the final facility managers and even the technicians who operate fire systems, the time to improve levels of competency in the industry is now.
Whilst too early to talk about the exact decisions the government will take in fixing the erratic and almost never enforced existing legislation, the move to unite several key bodies in the sector is a step in the right direction.
These same concerns go beyond our shores. The British public is still visibly reeling from the Grenfell Tower disaster last June in which 71 people died through-out the 27-story tower blaze in just a matter of hours. Popular musician Stormzy took the opportunity on stage at the Brit Awards just this week to hit out at Prime Minister Theresa May over the perceived lack of action for the victims’ families. Again, raising the question where does the responsibility truly lie?
This seminar, which Alberta both sponsored and helped co-ordinate, showed a willingness from all parties to work together. As Liz said, ‘We are heading in the right direction, but more must be done. Meanwhile, we will continue our corporate mission to raise awareness across the islands of the importance of taking the right safety measures for commercial and residential properties and providing certified consultants, technicians and installers to keep our buildings safe.’
She continued, ‘Built out of stone or not, fires must be prevented, and safety measures have to be put in place – because as we have all seen, hindsight won’t help save lives that are already lost.’
Alberta Group – 22 February 2018.