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Fire safety first for Wales

Welsh housing associations have teamed up with the fire service to launch what they claim is the UK’s first co-ordinated fire safety partnership for housing.

The Primary Authority Scheme has been set up by Community Housing Cymru (CHC) in partnership with South Wales Fire and Rescue Service as a response to an increasing focus on building safety.

The launch of the scheme today (April 18) follows almost a year of collaboration between the social housing sector in Wales and South Wales Fire and Rescue Service, and will give associations in Wales access to free advice on fire safety enforcement, legal issues, compliance and existing protocols.

CHC chief executive Stuart Ropke said:

‘Housing Associations in Wales are committed to ensuring the safety of tenants, and have a strong track record of providing services which include explaining fire safety measures to residents and retrofitting sprinkler systems.

‘We have been exploring the possibility of establishing a Co-ordinated Primary Fire Authority Scheme for Welsh housing associations for some years. With the vital importance of fire safety, it has become increasingly necessary for there to be a service of this kind, and we are delighted to have members already signing up.’

Huw Jakeway, Chief Fire Officer at South Wales Fire and Rescue Service said:

‘South Wales Fire and Rescue Service are delighted to announce the launch of our Primary Authority Scheme in partnership with Community Housing Cymru.

‘This is the very first coordinated scheme of its kind in Wales and will ensure a high standard of consistent regulation of the Fire Safety Order.

‘We look forward to working with Community Housing Cymru in supporting registered social landlords to implement risk reduction measures, assisting them in prioritising works needed for the benefit of their own business and for the wider community.’

First Choice Housing was the first housing association to sign up to the scheme. Sarah Roberts, health and safety assurance manager, said:

‘Ultimately the new partnership will improve the safety of residents living in our properties. It will provide better consistency in enforcement, increase partnerships with fire services in Wales and give the sector a stronger voice in influencing standards in fire safety. I am very happy to see the Primary Authority Fire Safety Partnership formalised and delighted that we are the first coordinated primary authority fire partnership in social housing in the UK.’

Wales and West Housing Association has been closely involved with establishing the scheme. Gareth Davis, health and safety manager, said:

‘Having been involved with several primary authority partnerships during my career, both as an enforcement officer and a health and safety practitioner, I understand the real benefits such a relationship can bring. I was therefore thrilled to be invited to help establish the co-ordinated primary authority partnership between CHC and South Wales Fire and Rescue.’

‘Primary Authority Advice is now available via CHC as our co-ordinating body, and this advice will be tailored to the general needs of members. Arguably the most valuable benefit of membership is the access it gives us to “assured” advice.  The partnership gives us a platform to discuss and devise approaches to compliance with the legislation that best fits our sector and shared circumstances.’


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