Dabinett were asked to project manage remedial works where there were deficiencies in the firestopping to a number of residential apartment blocks. The project management instruction involved inspections to establish deficiencies, detailed design of solutions, tendering and overseeing works.
The buildings dated from only the 1990s, but demonstrated the lack of thought to firestopping and the significant change in mindset over the last few years. Typically many issues with firestopping are hidden from sight, requiring specialist inspection and understanding of potential weak spots.
Programmes of work were agreed for the sites and tenders issued to obtain competitive tenders. Suitably certified and competitive contractors were selected and Dabinett went on to project manage the works on site.
There were a variety of challenges from confined working environments to problems that required lateral thinking to overcome.
During fire risk assessments being undertaken voids were found between floors where services ran through the building. The service risers typically contained drainage and ventilation ducts, with apartments located above one and other. The lack of firestopping meant that in the event of a fire, the fire could spread from one flat to another. A means to protect the risers was needed to ensure the integrity of the building. The works needed to be tendered to achieve best value and ensure the works were carried out swiftly.
Dabinett had previously undertaken firestopping design work to close up voids with a housing association and a large manufacturer to develop details to prevent fire spread through roof voids. This stood Dabinett in good stead with experience and several contractors qualified to undertake works via the FIRAS installer certification scheme.
Dabinett used a variety of means to inspect the risers, using specialist equipment to minimise disruption and accurately specify and quantify works. This allowed for tenders to be issued and for the costs to be returned with good consistency, where there was no ambiguity or guesswork, allowing competitive tenders to be returned.
In some cases access had to be through tenant’s kitchens or shower rooms, in which case records were made of the condition and a full schedule of work prepared to inform contractors of every element of work. The inspections looked at the firestopping, but also the practicality of removing kitchen units, cutting out tiles, etc.
Designs were detailed to ensure the proposed works did actually provide the requisite fire stopping and were physically achievable given the often tight spaces in which contractors had to work. A variety of firestopping methods were used, including intumescent slabs, fire mortars and pipe wraps.
Tenders were carefully reviewed and recommendations given in a tender report to the client. It was necessary to obtain multiple tenders and best value for Section 20 compliance for major works as properties were leasehold.
Schedules of condition were taken of apartments being worked in and efforts to ensure a smooth process resulted in the projects being completed on time and budget.
The technical nature of the project management instruction was something that Dabinett particularly enjoyed and were able to bring many years’ experience to bear.