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West Lancashire Borough Council (WLBC), a local council in the North West managing a housing portfolio of over 5000 properties across West Lancashire, appointed Pennington Choices to conduct Compartmentation Sample Surveys and Fire Risk Assessments (FRAs) across their housing stock. 

Project Overview 

In April 2023, WLBC requested that we carry out 11 high-priority FRAs in sheltered and supported accommodations. These urgent type one and type three FRAs were conducted outside of the usual mobilisation period due to the critical nature of the works. The priority was ensuring the safety of vulnerable, high-risk residents within these buildings. WLBC also required compartmentation sample surveys across 11 of their highest-priority buildings, including extra care, supported living, and over 55’s accommodation.  

Our Approach 

We used the software, SafetyCulture, to undertake sample surveys in a time and cost-efficient way. We also employed the industry-standard '48 point check' template to assess critical points against the BS880 industry standard for compartmentation and fire-stopping capabilities. The areas surveyed included property doors, roof spaces, vacant flats, corridors, and stairways. 

Our scheduling team played a crucial role in ensuring that the vulnerable residents received adequate support during the contract. We worked closely with the WLBC to ensure that building managers were available on site to accompany our assessors around the premises, where necessary, when conducting FRAs in properties belonging to vulnerable residents. Our collaborative approach with the building managers ensured high access rates and timely allocation, validation, and completion of the FRAs. We then created bespoke (PAS79 compliant) templates for WLBC to ensure that the information collected was specific to their requirements.   

Our Achievements 

Our compartmentation samples provided WLBC with a representative risk rating for their entire property portfolio. This, alongside our list of recommended remedial actions to improve fire safety gave them a comprehensive understanding of potential property risks and suggestions for their next steps. Our investigations also highlighted high risk buildings which may require a more in-depth compartmentation survey.   

By carefully reallocating our resources and attending weekly progress meetings to maintain open communication with WLBC, we successfully delivered the 11 urgent FRAs within the first fortnight of the contract. We continue to provide approximately 300 FRAs for WLBC annually. Reports were submitted to WLBC promptly, with a ten-day turnaround from site attendance to report publication, allowing them to undertake remediation actions for their potential risks as soon as possible. 

From this project, we developed a great working relationship with WLBC, and we look forward to continuing our partnership.