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Time to reappraise safety and insurance

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I am delighted to read that bre/frs are taking over the Loss Prevention Council and sincerely hope that this 'marriage' will resolve the continuing conflict of interests between life safety, as represented by the Building Regulations, Part B, and the Property/Contents Insurance 'Construction Rules'.

Architects can persuade their clients that designs must conform to Building Regulation standards, but are seldom allowed to demonstrate the insurer's requirements. The competitive market is usually considered for premium assessments on completion of the contract, not at design stage.

A most important debate should develop over the priorities for life safety or property/ contents insurance, in view of the rapidly changing design criteria developing through advanced technology. Many recent developments involve little, if any 'risk to the health and safety of the occupants', as these are peopleless developments, with systems that are totally automated.

Automatic warehouses, automatic car parks, robotic manufacture and production units are typical examples, and it communication systems will surely take over many previous manual functions in the not too distant future. Now must be the time to reappraise the values of personal regulatory restraints against the commercial and economic requirements of these new developments.

Alan Parnell, managing director, Fire Check Consultants, Tonbridge, Kent

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