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Beyond isolation: why coordinated specifications are key to construction safety

In the ever-evolving world of construction, ensuring safety is of fundamental importance but is often compromised by the traditional approach of isolated specifications. This method can lead to significant issues—not only does it jeopardise the overall system’s functionality, but it also leads to project inefficiencies. A recent Fire Roundtable hosted by Optima brought to light the need for a shift towards coordinated specifications, especially when it comes to safety-critical systems like fire-resistant glazing. The insights from the discussion provide a roadmap for adopting a more holistic approach.

Foundations of safety: Integrating from the start

When specifying critical construction components like fire-resistant glazing, it is crucial to consider how they interact with adjacent elements—in fact, their entire efficacy depends on their integration.

Recognising this interdependence, a coordinated specification approach must be deployed to prevent compatibility issues that can compromise a system’s integrity.

By involving all stakeholders—including architects, engineers, and specialist contractors—from the project’s inception, we not only prioritise safety and ensure regulatory compliance, but also increase efficiency, avoiding delays and cost overruns.

Bridging the knowledge gap across the industry

The roundtable revealed a significant lack of confidence amongst architects and designers in specifying passive fire protection systems, a concern exacerbated by recent regulatory changes. These changes underscore the urgent need for designers to deepen their understanding of these systems to ensure correct integration into buildings.

The critical importance of third-party testing & certification

Roundtable experts also emphasised the need for third-party testing and certification to ensure the reliability of fire safety systems and the importance of specifiers verifying that all products are properly credentialed.

But the common practice of withholding vital information on the grounds of commercial sensitivity undermines these safety standards – this needs to change.

Advocating for a cultural shift

Addressing general industry behaviour is crucial for fostering a culture that prioritises safety over cost. The only way to instil confidence in our work is by changing how we act as individuals within an industry that carries a significant responsibility to protect. This shift is essential for building trust and ensuring the long-term integrity of fire safety measures.

At Optima, we’re committed to leading by example, continuously engaging with experts and stakeholders to advance our collective understanding and practices around fire safety. To ensure that every product delivered upholds the highest standards of quality, we continually invest in research and development to meet evolving regulations.

The future of fire safety

The insights from the Fire Roundtable paint a clear picture: to boost both safety and efficiency in construction, a shift away from isolated specifications to integrated and coordinated approaches is imperative. By fostering collaboration and advancing knowledge amongst all stakeholders, together we can set new benchmarks for responsibility in the construction industry, building a safer, more efficient tomorrow. To discover how Optima can elevate your fire safety standards, please get in touch.

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