After the tragedy of Grenfell Tower, fire safety was suddenly hauled into the spotlight. Something that people usually considered as “That won’t happen to me,” was instantly viewed as a potential outcome. What made this realisation even worse is that it could even be caused by no fault of your own, and actually result from external factors. In the instance of Grenfell Tower, this was sadly the case. A faulty fridge caught alight and then spread throughout the flat, then caught fire to the cladding on the external walls, which led to it tearing through the whole building. As well as this, there were other non-compliances in the building that added to the spread of smoke and fire.
During the investigation into who was responsible, Dame Judith Hackitt recognised that there was a distinct lack of accountability and traceability with regard to fire safety. Thus, the theory of the Golden Thread of information was born.
Who is Hackitt?
Dame Judith Hackitt was part of the Grenfell Tower Enquiry which was put in place to investigate the people who were ultimately culpable for the deaths of 72 people. She is a British Engineer, former chair of the HSE and is currently chair of manufacturing trade body Make UL (formerly EEF). You can read Hackitt’s full independent review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety here.
What is the Golden Thread?
In the context of fire safety, a Golden Thread basically means a trail of readily available information about products and procedures that contribute towards fire safety. It acts as an online paper trail of data and includes details of the manufacturing, specification, installation, management and maintenance of all fire safety practices in one building.
For example, if you bought a set of fire doors, your Golden Thread could include, but is not limited to:
- Manufacturing: The parts suppliers, the person who manufactured the door, the certification details
- Specification: Who designed the building, who chose the fire doors
- Installation: Who installed the fire door and when, their training providers/certifications, when they were installed, who checked for correct installation
- Management: Who is the Responsible Person in the building of installation
- Maintenance: Who is maintaining and inspecting them, dates of checks, actions that were taken, any adaptations
This information is in place so people have the ability to trace right back to the beginning and find out more efficiently where things may have gone wrong, allowing you to take the correct action and recommended improvements going forward.
This is an example of only one element of the Golden Thread for one building.
How has Grenfell led to the Golden Thread?
During the Grenfell Enquiry, it was difficult to gain information about specific parts of the building. No one wanted to admit to being at fault and blame was batted around in all directions.
The point of the Golden Thread is to eliminate the need to rely on someone’s memory or morals. All information is already available in black and white. You can see who has done what and when. If people know that their malpractice is traceable, this could prevent them from making the kind of mistakes that happened at Grenfell. As people need to take ownership of their work, it will encourage the compliant execution of all fire safety requirements.
What does this mean for fire safety going forward?
The Golden Thread method is not a regulated requirement, but a template for ideal practice. This means businesses don’t have to follow the Golden Thread by law. However, many people are enquiring about this when purchasing or hiring, especially in the housing sector.
Ideally, these procedures should already be in place. If a business is running in accordance with ISO quality standards, this kind of information should already be available. It may be that extra steps need to be taken when recording data or new operational methods implemented so that all information is stored efficiently.
The British Standards Institute has recently released a draft version of a new standard, BS 644-1 Digital management of fire safety information. Part 1: Design, construction, handover, asset management and emergency response – Code of practice, which is currently open for commenting and aims to give a basic framework for how information that makes up the Golden Thread is managed, presented and exchanged using digital information management processes.
As well as British Standards being drafted, the Building Regulations Advisory Committee have published their Golden Thread Report to provide an overview of relevant policy and how it has been progressed, offering a summary definition of the Golden Thread as “. . . both the information that allows you to understand a building and the steps needed to keep both the building and people safe, now and in the future.”
How can we help you create your Golden Thread?
Fireco is part of the fire industry and we also have our own HQ where our whole business operates, with all of our staff using it as a base. This means the fire safety of our building is paramount. We’re always thinking of ways we can further improve our efficiency and compliance whilst adhering to fire safety best practices.
This led us to the creation of InSite; cloud-based software that provides real-time data about your building, accessible on any internet device. You can record and access information about all of your Fireco Pro devices, including whether doors are open or closed, when products are installed or maintained, and you check certification records and datasheets.
Find out more about how our products can help you keep your building compliant and allow you to improve your Golden Thread of information. Call us on 01273 320650 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org