WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM THE GRENFELL TOWER FIRE TRAGEDY?
Wayne Smith, Chief Executive Officer, National Fire Industry Association
Are we in the midst of a fire epidemic?
The fires at the Grenfell Tower in London, Marco Polo high rise apartments in Honolulu, Torch Tower in Dubai and the many fires that have occurred without coming to public notice around the world, might suggest that we are.
The most obvious response to such a series of headlining fire disasters is that we can’t be complacent about fire protection. But how often do we hear that old story where we spend more on a trendy paintjob on a newly furbished high rise apartment building that we can all so lovingly admire, yet scrimp and screw down on fire protection because of the belief that no one sees a fire protection system anyway - so who really cares?
When we have that consumer attitude aligned with the old chestnut of it can’t really happen here, we are setting ourselves up for the next generation of Grenfell tower fire disasters. After the Lacrosse fire in Melbourne, we still have current day occupants of that building storing all sorts of stuff on balconies etc. (as reported by the local Melbourne media) despite the fire investigation making the point that this form of sloppy and over extended storage became a fuel source for the fire at that time.
So how do we honour those lives lost by fire into the future?
Education, education and more education
By better understanding the implications of poor or simply non-existent fire protection, the community is better able to demand genuine fire protection from Government, regulators and builders. So, we need to enable that fire protection education by creating better relationships with the wider community influencers and leaders such as local politicians and community groups.
As human beings, we regulate the provision of traffic lights so as to perform what seems to be the simple task of crossing a road.
We regulate clean water services nowadays whereas centuries ago, we simply drank untreated water from a stream or well. Because we have grown our knowledge and understanding of water and its various compounds, we began to understand that water treatment in most parts of the world is essential to the protection of community health.
In fact, in many parts of the developed world we now license and regulate the provision of water supply to the community.
So why is it that fire protection often isn’t at that same level of community priority?
Doesn’t fire protection sit in the same space as regulating pedestrian traffic or ensuring that clean water is available to the community?
Improved regulation is an absolute necessity to any strategy for better fire protection. We must ensure that fire protection product plus the fire protection people who undertake fire protection work as well as the fire protection qualifications that are required by fire protection people, are all closely regulated and managed by a credible, qualified regulatory authority.
Mandated or prescribed standards for fire protection
We need to ensure that we have genuine fire protection standards prescribed for fire protection design, installation, maintenance, service, inspect and test, and repair of fire protection.
And most importantly, we need to ensure that fire protection standards are adhered to; we need to better develop a stronger fire protection culture of compliance and quality around the world.
These recent fire disasters have raised some threshold issues for the fire protection industry around the world.
What regulation does a nation have of its fire protection products, their entry into the country, their application in the construction and maintenance of fire protection, their fitness for purpose?
Who gets to design, install and maintain fire protection systems?
What qualifications should people hold in order to do these jobs competently and professionally?
For Australia, the National Fire Industry Association believes that a National Fire Safety Commission should lead the way forward on these issues.
The National Fire Safety Commission should:
- be comprised of both industry representatives and regulators, and the Chief Commissioner should be an industry representative
- be the national regulator for fire protection companies, their operatives, service providers and fire protection products
- approve product for use for fire safety measures
- conduct audits of installations, at completion and throughout the life of the installation
- approve qualifications for registration/licensing of individuals to undertake fire protection work
- facilitate the availability and delivery of genuine fire protection qualifications to the industry’s workforce.
The National Fire Safety Commission should ensure that a genuine level of knowledge, skills and fire safety standards for people and products are defined, clearly understood and complied with to ensure the ongoing safety of the Australian community.
An Australian National Fire Safety Commission can become the next step in Australia becoming a world – leading fire protection nation that offers genuine fire protection to all of the community.
A House of Commons Briefing Paper (PDF)
A New York Times article covering the event
WATER EFFICIENCY, INFRASTRUCTURE AND RE-USE HEAD AGENDA
Matt Sigler, Technical Director, Plumbing Manufacturers International
This article is reproduced from the August 2017 Ripple Effect newsletter issued by Plumbing Manufacturers International and is used with the permission of PMI.
As policy makers search for consensus on issues relating to water and environment, Plumbing Manufacturers International (PMI) continues to advocate for water efficiency, a restored national water infrastructure, and safe plumbing benefitting public health. While federal policymakers wrangle over budgets and priorities, policymakers in states such as California continue to push for ways to more aggressively conserve and reuse water.
WaterSense program in jeopardy
WaterSense is one of several programs identified for elimination under EPA’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2018 submitted earlier this year. WaterSense, a voluntary partnership program sponsored by the EPA, has had widespread support from the plumbing manufacturing industry and has provided valuable water- and cost-saving benefits for more than a decade.
In response to EPA’s proposed cut, PMI urged the EPA to preserve and maintain the WaterSense program in a letter and a face-to-face meeting with key EPA staff. In addition, PMI and its members have reached out to more than 100 key congressional offices, emphasizing the value of maintaining the WaterSense program, urging support for a series of bills that will formally authorize the program, and working to include report language in the House and Senate FY18 Interior, EPA appropriations bill to keep the program.
In addition, PMI is working closely with important partners including the Alliance for Water Efficiency (AWE), International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO), High Performance Buildings Coalition, and National Association of Home Builders to save this vital program.
WaterSense products have saved an estimated 2.1 trillion gallons of water since its inception in 2006. The program costs the EPA about $3 million a year to administer, and has delivered more than $33 billion to consumers in water and energy bill savings, according to the EPA WaterSense website. WaterSense products use 20 percent less water than plumbing products meeting the required federal standards.
Most WaterSense products, including showerheads, toilets, urinals, commercial pre-rinse spray valves and faucets, are manufactured by PMI member companies.
To further emphasize the importance of water efficiency, PMI and AWE released the results of a research study in April estimating that 170 billion gallons of water can be saved annually through water-efficient toilets in five states facing water scarcity. For example, it’s enough water to take 10 billion showers – more than one for each person on the planet.
Water reuse presents benefits, potential risks
Efforts to conserve potable water through reuse have been gaining momentum, especially in states like California hit hard by drought.
Several state legislators and other stakeholders joined with PMI to successfully delay regulations relating to the use of non-potable recycled water indoors for new residential and commercial developments until scientific studies determine if recycled water use in this manner poses any risks to public health and safety, as well as if there are plumbing product performance issues when these products are used with treated wastewater.
One such study that may be used as guidance is a Virginia Tech study, with funding through the American Water Works Association (AWWA) and National Science Foundation (NSF), under the direction of Drs. Amy Pruden and Marc Edwards. This research is exploring the relative abundance and diversity of antibiotic-resistant genes and pathogens in reclaimed (recycled) versus potable water distribution systems. A Virginia Tech research team recently released the results of a study concluding that interrupted corrosion control caused the Flint lead-in-water crisis.
Promoting the need for restored national water infrastructure PMI has traditionally advocated for water-efficient plumbing products, particularly those certified by the WaterSense program. However, lead-in-water crises in Flint, Mich., and many other American communities – coupled with concerns about waterborne pathogens such as Legionella, water main breaks and leaks, drought and their collective impact on water infrastructure – led PMI to begin an advocacy effort focused on water infrastructural issues.
In summer 2016, PMI introduced its water infrastructure advocacy through a position paper and infographic. PMI continues to educate policymakers about the importance of a restored national water infrastructure.
The good news is that Congressional leaders from both parties have expressed interest in developing job-creating legislation that would restore American infrastructure. PMI will be urging Congress to address water infrastructural concerns through this legislation.
In addition, a PMI study, currently in progress under the direction of Dr. Paul Sturman of Montana State University, is testing the hypothesis that low flow rates yield a greater proliferation of opportunistic waterborne pathogens, such as Legionella, in potable water and create unsafe conditions.
Dr. Edwards at Virginia Tech has published research showing that waterborne pathogens, like Legionella, are more likely to grow when water lies stagnant in pipes leading to the tap. This research is especially important as lower flow rates and alternative kinds of water systems that keep water in pipes longer are being considered to address water shortages.
SUCCESSFUL INITIAL ACTION TO DEFEND WATERSENSE
The Trump Administration budget called for elimination of the WaterSense program, which is managed by the US Environmental Protection Authority.
However the 21 July 2017 Riso Report, issued by the Plumbing Heating and Cooling Contractors National Association (PHCC), notes that a US House of Representatives appropriations subcommittee has recently stated that it “...rejects the proposed elimination of the WaterSense program.”
PHCC is part of several coalitions working to retain the WaterSense program. Although the issue has not yet been resolved successfully, the House of Representatives is now in a position to push for the continuation of WaterSense during the September 2017 budget debate.
EPA’S VOLUNTARY WATERSENSE PROGRAM DEMONSTRATES SUCCESS
The Office of Inspector General of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a report on the EPA’s WaterSense Program on 1 August 2017 which found that use of WaterSense-labeled products saved an estimated 1.5 trillion gallons of water and reduced the amount of energy needed to heat, pump and treat water by 212 billion kilowatt hours.
The EPA launched WaterSense in 2006, in part to ensure the performance of water-efficient products.
Use of WaterSense-labeled products saved an estimated 1.5 trillion gallons of water and reduced the amount of energy needed to heat, pump and treat water by 212 billion kilowatt hours.
As a result, consumers saved an estimated $32.6 billion. For every US Federal Government dollar spent on the program, consumers saved an estimated $1,100.
The EPA reported that more than 1,738 partners had joined the WaterSense program through 2015.
For the full report see www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2017-08/documents/_epaoig_20170801-17-p-0352.pdf.
LAUNCH OF THE EUROPEAN BATHROOM FORUM AND WATER LABEL
A new coalition aimed at establishing an environmental Water Label in Europe has been established: the European Bathroom Forum. The aim of the Water Label is to ensure transparent, reliable and updated information about the water and energy consumption of bathroom products.
This new platform presently consists of 57 European manufacturers and nine trade bodies and associations from the bathroom industry.
The European Bathroom Forum plans a transition period of 18 months, mainly devoted to defining the technical content of the label and to making this initiative known within the sector. This period will end with the launch of the initiative at the ISH Frankfurt 2019, the most important trade fair specializing in the bathroom sector in the world.
Much of the drive to establish the Water Label and the European Bathroom Forum has been led by Yvonne Orgill, Chief Executive Officer of the Bathroom Manufacturers Association, a WPC Member. The Chairman of the European Bathroom Forum is Pietro Mariotti and a secretariat is now in place.
This initiative by the bathroom industry has been conceived with the aim of contributing to the global goals of the European Commission in the field of sustainability and efficiency related to water and energy consumption. According to a recent study, the perception of users about water consumption in the bathroom space is approximately 20% of its real use. Water Label will allow an improvement of this knowledge by offering clear information that has been agreed by all manufacturers in the sector.
The next steps: recognition by the European Union
In a meeting held in Barcelona on the 11 July 2017, the European Bathroom Forum defined the next steps to be taken in order to implement the Water Label initiative. Among them, the aim of obtaining the support and recognition of the European Commission stands out, so that manufacturers will voluntarily adopt this information standard for consumers.
For further information see: www.europeanwaterlabel.eu/.
UPGRADED PLUMBER TRAINING FRAMEWORK IN ENGLAND
The Plumbing and Domestic Heating Technician Apprenticeship Board has announced that the Government has approved the Apprenticeship Assessment Plan for England. The Assessment Plan provides a prospectus for students, training providers and assessing organizations and details what is involved in the Plumbing and Domestic Heating Technician Apprenticeship.
The Plumbing and Domestic Heating Technician Apprenticeship Board was formed in December 2016 to ensure the future success of English plumbing and domestic heating apprenticeships and, following the approval of the Assessment Plan, the Board is now in dialogue with Government over the technical detail.
The Board was assembled by and is administered by the Association of Plumbing and Heating Contractors (APHC) and the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (CIPHE), the two leading membership organizations within the plumbing and heating industry in England, both WPC Members. APCH and CIPHE joined forces to create an industry partnership with the ultimate goal of producing a world class plumbing and heating workforce in England.
The apprenticeship will typically take 48 months to complete with successful completion resulting in an NVQ Level 3 Plumbing & Heating Qualification. The apprentices will undertake a structured program of study whilst in suitable employment and complete on-program training and assessment involving a series of knowledge based and practical assessments.
Successful completion of the Apprenticeship Qualification will result in a grade being awarded of either a Pass, Merit or Distinction.
For companies that are members of a competent person scheme and the Gas Safe Register, the Apprenticeship Qualification will deliver individuals who meet the competence requirements to be able to work through a competent person scheme for oil and solid fuel and the Gas Safe Register for gas.
The overriding goal of the Apprenticeship Qualification is to deliver an appropriately skilled plumbing and heating workforce in England, able to work at a ‘world-class’ standard.
The Board is working towards an official launch of the new Apprenticeship Standard in January 2018.
WPC Director Kevin Wellman is Chief Executive Officer of CIPHE. CIPHE is the professional body for the UK plumbing and heating industry. It has a membership of around 7,200 including approximately 170 manufacturers and distributors. Most live in the UK, but some 800 are in Hong Kong and a further 300 live in over 30 other countries.
See www.aphc.co.uk and www.ciphe.org.uk.
NEW APHC PRESIDENT CALLS FOR IMPROVED TRAINING AND PROSECUTIONS FOR DEFECTIVE GAS WORK
The new President of the UK Association of Plumbing & Heating Contractors (APHC), Mark Antrobus, recently outlined his key priorities for improving the quality of new entrants and changes in how the gas registration body operates.
In his June 2017 speech, Mark explained how the closure of SummitSkills had led to APHC, British Plumbing Employers Council and the Scottish and Northern Ireland Plumbing Employers Federation to set-up a new body, The Plumbing & Domestic Heating Skills Partnership, to oversee the development of plumbing and heating qualifications and apprenticeships.
Mark Antrobus voiced his long-term concerns over the financing of training and apprenticeships: “A strong message needs to go to Government because as an industry that is made up of largely micro businesses, we cannot be expected to fund all the necessary apprenticeship and qualification design, development and quality assurance work. We need some level of Government support to fund this vital work.”
Mark also outlined how he believed the industry needs to put an end to full-time college based training, how the demand for training needs to be led by the number of placements available from employers and how Government needs to properly incentivise employers to train apprentices.
Mark went on to voice his concerns over how the industry’s gas registration body operates: “There is a need for greater enforcement action in penalising those responsible for dangerous gas work and further legislation banning these individuals from re-registering.”
“I also believe that further work is necessary around the way in which those aspiring to develop a gas installation and maintenance career can prove competence. Time and again we see the outcomes in the form of dangerous gas work resulting from the various fast track training solutions. ACS was not meant as a vehicle for training new entrants, its purpose is for use with experienced operatives.”
Mark concluded his speech by saying that if these points are not addressed then he believes gas registrants are likely to react in much the same way as they did when the CGSC Scheme was launched.
SWEDISH PLUMBERS AND ELECTRICIANS ASSOCIATION BUYS PLUMBING SCHOOL
In late June 2017 Installatörsföretagen, an organization formed by the merger of the Electrical Installation Agency EIO and VVS Virksomheden, acquired REFIS, a training school focused on plumbing skills based in Stockholm.
Installatörsföretagen is an organization formed by the merger of the Electrical Installation Agency EIO and VVS Virksomheden. The EIO is an industry and employer’s organization for Sweden's electricity and telecommunications companies and VVS Företagen is an industry organization for plumbing companies as well as an employer organization for companies active in cold pipes, industrial pipes, ventilation and technical insulation.
In late June 2017 Installatörsföretagen acquired REFIS, a training school focused on plumbing skills based in Stockholm.
Jan Siezing, the CEO of Installatörsföretagen, is very satisfied with the purchase and looks to the future with confidence. He commented “REFIS is a very good school. They have a well-functioning business with talented and ambitious employees. The school is focused on the HVAC and property program which makes it easier to develop the plumbing program to become even better and to ensure students who complete their plumbing training actually possess the skills needed by industry.
REFIS has built up a good partnership with companies in Stockholm over the years, which is a prerequisite for training tailored to industry requirements. The school currently offers secondary education HVAC and building programs focusing on plumbing.
The industry is in great need of skilled workers and the purchase of the school is an important part of Installatörsföretagen’s work towards sustainable skills.
The purchase of the school is seen as an example that could spread throughout Sweden.
NEW WHO AND UNICEF GLOBAL REPORT ON SAFE WATER SUPPLY AND SANITATION SERVICES
The WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene has published a new report: Progress on Drinking Water, Sanitation and Hygiene: 2017 Update and SDG Baselines.
Estimates of safely managed drinking water services are presented for 96 countries, while estimates are provided for safely managed sanitation services for 84 countries. This report also presents data on the availability of handwashing facilities with soap and water in the home for 70 countries.
The report finds that in 2015, 29% of the global population (2.1 billion people) lacked safely managed drinking water services – meaning water at home, available, and safe.
Sixty-one percent of the global population (4.5 billion people) lacked safely managed sanitation services – meaning use of a toilet or latrine that leads to treatment or safe disposal of excreta.
Data on handwashing were too few to make a global estimate, but in sub-Saharan Africa, only 15% of the population had access to a handwashing facility with soap and water.
In addition the report introduces and defines new indicators of safely managed drinking water and sanitation services.
The 2.1 billion people without safely managed drinking water services includes 1.3 billion people with basic services, meaning an improved water source located within 30 minutes; 263 million people with limited services, or an improved water source requiring more than 30 minutes to collect water; 423 million people taking water from unprotected wells and springs, and 159 million people collecting untreated surface water from lakes, ponds, rivers and streams.
The 4.5 billion people without safely managed sanitation services includes 2.1 billion people with basic services, meaning an improved sanitation facility which is not shared; 600 million people with limited services, or an improved sanitation facility which is shared; 856 million people using unprotected latrines or bucket toilets, and 892 million people collecting practising open defecation.
Safely managed services represent an ambitious new global benchmark and estimates are not yet available for all countries. The report identifies a number of critical data gaps that will need to be addressed to enable systematic monitoring of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) targets.
Yet the data now available are more than enough to show the tasks at hand: eliminate open defecation for the nearly 900 million people who continue to lack even the most rudimentary sanitation; bring basic water, sanitation and hygiene within the reach of the most disadvantaged; and support progress for those who already have basic services, but do not have truly safe drinking water or adequate sanitation.
See www.washdata.org/report/jmp-2017-report-launch-version. The website www.washdata.org allows visitors to interactively access the full dataset and download individual country files. Login with username “washdata” and password “preview”.
NEW ASIAN DEVELOPMENT BANK AND WHO HANDBOOK ON WATER SAFETY PLANNING FOR URBAN WATER UTILITIES
This new handbook provides practical guidance on integrating the Water Safety Plan (WSP) approach into Asian Development Bank (ADB) urban water projects, to aid compliance with global best practices.
Following the World Health Organization (WHO) Water Safety Plan Manual (2009), adapted to ADB’s operations, this handbook offers step-by-step guidance on developing and implementing a WSP.
The WHO estimates that drinking contaminated water causes 502,000 diarrheal deaths each year and that by 2025 half of the world's population will be living in water-stressed areas.
ADB is committed to providing safe drinking water throughout Asia and the Pacific.
This new publication provides a step-by-step guide on developing and implementing a Water Safety Plan using guidelines, templates, evaluation criteria, and terms of reference.
RECENT INDUSTRY EVENTS
2017 ISH FRANKFURT - ANOTHER OUTSTANDING SUCCESSS
ISH Frankfurt is the leading international trade fair for bathroom, plumbing, heating and air conditioning products and services – as evidenced by the visitor and exhibitor figures for ISH 2017.
ISH Frankfurt is held every two years and the March 2017 edition was another outstanding and record breaking event. The number of visitors hit a new high of 198,810 and the number of exhibitors also reached a new record of 2,485.
The exhibitor space in 2017 was a huge 261,300 square meters. The fair attracts key decision makers, with 45% of visitors holding upper or top management positions.
Nearly 40% of visitors come to ISH from countries outside Germany, with China providing the largest number of international visitors. Of the exhibitors, 64% are from outside Germany.
Ninety-six per cent of surveyed visitors said they were very satisfied or satisfied with the 2017 fair.
The March 2019 edition of ISH Frankfurt is likely to be another major step forward in the success of this event. It will be extended by one day (operating Monday through Friday) and will have enlarged and renewed exhibition spaces. See the ISH 2019 notification in upcoming events section below.
SUCCESSFUL CIPH MAKING HISTORY TOGETHER CONFERENCE JULY 2017
The Canadian Institute of Plumbing and Heating (CIPH) held a successful Annual Business Conference with a ‘Making History Together’ theme The event was held over 25 to 27 June 2017 in Ottawa Ontario, in conjunction with the 150th Anniversary of Canadian Confederation. More than 280 Delegates and Companions from across North America attended the event.
The event provided attendees the opportunity to engage with a powerful roster of speakers on a variety of informative topics. The concepts and new approaches behind these topics were instrumental in helping to illuminate the conference theme.
The event was arranged by ABC 2017 Chairman Allen Taylor (Taylor Pipe Supports) and his Committee; Ravi Beech (Valley Acrylic), Claude DesRosiers (Boone Plumbing & Heating), André Descôteaux (Deschênes & Fils Ltée), Andrew Dyck (Barclay Sales), David Harris (Harris Atlantic Sales), Gail Kaufman (Wolseley Canada), Barry Moulsdale (Spectrum Brands), Matt Robinson (B.A. Robinson), Peter Stojanov (Onward Sales & Marketing) and Tim Main (Xylem).
The conference was launched by Deputy Mayor of Ottawa Mark Taylor, who greeted Delegates and Companions on behalf of the city. This was followed by renowned explorer, adventurer and wildlife photographer Michelle Valberg who spoke on "Making History Together - The Power of Celebration through the Lens". Michelle was followed by Roger Greenberg, a second generation co-owner of the Minto Group who presented “Succession Planning in a Family Business – One Perspective”. Roger was followed by the former Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird who delivered a discussion on the current Canadian political landscape.
The 2nd day of speakers featured former Ambassador to the United States Derek Burney who spoke on “Canada in the World of Trump”. Derek was followed by Senator Donald Plett who addressed the importance of government and industry partnership through his presentation “The Power of Collaboration”. The keynote speaker was former Governor General Adrienne Clarkson who spoke on “Making History Together: Building a Stronger Canada”.
The Conference also featured NRCan’s Director General of the Office of Energy Efficiency Patricia Fuller who provided an overview of government priorities for clean growth and climate change in Canada’s building sector at the annual Hydronics Luncheon in her presentation “Building Practical Regulations”.
In addition, several of CIPH’s key North American Allies offered greetings on behalf of their associations including Del Pawliuk of R.F. Contracting, Chairman of MCA Canada; Peter Jahrling of Sloan Valve Company, Chairman of Plumbing Manufacturers International, and; Rick Ellul of Belimo Aircontrols, Chairman of the Heating Refrigeration Air Conditioning Institute of Canada.
DATES FOR DIARY MAY 2017
- ISH Shanghai 5-7 September 2017, Shanghai China
- Indian Plumbing Association Plumbing Design for High Rise Buildings Conference 22-23 September 2017, Chennai India
- The IAPMO Group 88th Annual Education & Business Conference 24-28 September 2017, Anchorage Alaska
- Plumbing Heating Cooling Contractors Connect 2017 3-6 October 2017, Milwaukee USA
- WorldSkills Competition 16-19 October 2017, Abu Dhabi United Arab Emirates
- WorldSkills Conference 16-17 October 2017, Abu Dhabi United Arab Emirates
- World Plumbing Council General Meeting + Four Pillars of Plumbing Forum, 19 October 2017, Abu Dhabi United Arab Emirates
- ASPE 2017 Tech Symposium 19-22 October 2017, Montreal Canada
- Plumbing Manufacturers International In the Spirit of Collaboration Conference 13-16 November 2017, Sonoma California
- ISH India Powered by IPA 22-24 February 2018, Bengaluru India
- Emerging Water Technology Symposium 15-16 May 2018, Los Angeles California
- World Plumbing Council General Meeting + Four Pillars of Plumbing Forum, 18 May 2018, Los Angeles California
- ISH Frankfurt 11-15 March 2019, Frankfurt Germany
From 2019 the trade fair will begin on Monday, instead of Tuesday as in the past. The next ISH Frankfurt will also benefit from a new exhibition hall, a new layout in the Energy section and other improvements in locations and venues.
- World Plumbing Council 12th Triennial World Plumbing Conference, 11-13 September 2019, Melbourne Australia
Contact email@example.com to provide an event report or request listing of an upcoming event.