CEO of CITB Tim Balcon Blogged: One word explains why modern fire safety skills are more vital than ever for every UK construction worker: Grenfell.

On 14 June 2017, a fire broke out in the 24-storey Grenfell Tower block of flats in west London.  Seventy-two people lost their lives in the disaster.  A month after the tragedy a review into fire safety, led by Dame Judith Hackitt, was commissioned.  In the foreword of the review’s interim report, Building a Safer Future Dame Judith wrote: “The mindset of doing things as cheaply as possible and passing on responsibility for problems and shortcomings to others must stop.”

One of Dame Judith’s key findings was that UK building regulations were “not fit for purpose”.  She recommended action to improve the lack of basic fire safety awareness in the construction and buildings maintenance workforce.  CITB’s new fire safety eCourse, which will be launched in December, is a response to that recommendation.

Following Grenfell, working groups formed by the Inquiry were set up to look at different focus areas.  The Inquiry’s Working Group 2 (WG2) was tasked with assessing the competence of people who install fire safety systems.  WG2 concluded that a fast, simple fire safety training solution was needed.  CITB was asked to address this skills gap and create a low cost, accessible course.  In response, the new interactive eCourse will provide learners with an opportunity to improve their awareness of fire safety topics such as:

  • The design of a building including its structural integrity
  • The implications of compromising building elements already installed
  • Common fire hazards on a construction site
  • Safe working practice on site
  • How to raise the alarm & evacuate safely (including your own home)
  • The importance of fire suppression and containment
  • The consequences of fire to business, communities, and individuals.

Overall, the course will provide learners with the knowledge of how fire behaves in a building with the aim of preventing another disaster.  It will give individuals responsibility to raise concerns on any aspect of build quality or safety on site.  The eCourse has case studies to support learning and includes interviews with firefighters who attended major incidents.  Due to the high stakes nature of the topic, industry requested an invigilated exam for the course.  The exam, which can be taken online or at a Pearson VUE test centre, costs just £20.  The course’s certificate of achievement will be valid for five years and added to the Construction Training Register.  It is suggested FIS members use My Professional Pass to record individual achievements.

Fire safety awareness is everyone’s responsibility.  It can prevent disasters and save lives.  CITB thank WG2, the Fire Protection Association, the Association for Specialist Fire Protection and the Fire Service College for sharing their expertise during the development of this course.

How to enrol on the course:  The eCourse will be available on the CITB eCourses website in December. Simply follow the steps to register and you can complete the course at your own pace.  Once you’ve finished the course you can book your exam.  Please note this course is not CITB Grant eligible.