Study suggests one in four architects consider end users as the root cause of fire protection failure

Despite 60% of UK architects saying the building and construction industry is not failing when it comes to passive fire protection, it is evident that all is not right with UK fire protection

  • A quarter (26%) of architects say that building end-users are the root cause of fire protection failure
  • Almost a fifth of architects (19%) say meeting deadlines isn’t important
  • 25% of architects say profits made and costs incurred don’t impact on their decision making

Zeroignition, the fire-retardant technology firm, has announced the latest insights from its study into fire protection issues and UK construction processes. Architects and specifiers provided their views on fire protection and lines of responsibility.

Despite 60% of UK architects saying the building and construction industry is not failing when it comes to passive fire protection, it is evident that all is not right with UK fire protection. When asked which stakeholder is the root cause of fire protection failures, a shocking 26% of architects said end-users, 26% said regulators and a third (32%) said building control.

One in four (25%) architects said profit made and costs incurred had no impact on their product decision-making, and surprisingly one in five (19%) revealed meeting deadlines or build timescales are not important. The fire safety of finished buildings is a priority for architects, with 85% considering it of paramount importance. The fire safety of individual components is considered similarly important, according to 81% of architects.

The survey results suggest UK architects consider end users, building control and the regulators as the stakeholders at the root of the problem for why building and construction systems are currently failing with respect to fire protection.

Interestingly, the UK specifiers who took the survey considered architects and end users to be the most at fault with both stakeholders receiving a third of the vote (33%) respectively.

Ian King, chief operating officer, Zeroignition, said: “Over a third (35%) of architects see themselves as the party with the ultimate responsibility for materials used in a fire fail. However, more surprising is the fact that architects see the outside of a project build, such as those living in a property, most culpable. The quantity surveyors interviewed also considered end users to be the root cause of fire protection failure.

“Few end users will contemplate the fire risks of the build they’re in let alone consider fire protection as their responsibility. Clearly this gap between architect expectations and end user responsibility needs to be addressed.”

Glyn Coates, director, Zeroignition, with over 40 years’ experience said: “Just as the building and construction industry must adopt a fire safety first approach with fire protection built into initial designs and products, a cultural change is also necessary. End users need a better understanding of the risk of fire and any preventative methods to actions they can take.”

Robert McBride, director and architectural technologist at studio: MASS, commented: “An essential change the industry needs to make is to ensure its system and product selection are up to the job rather than based on cost. It’s unlikely you would see this cost down focus in the aviation or automotive industry with component specification changes being based on low-cost options over prioritising passenger safety. It’s time for the construction industry to stand up and become accountable.”