Publication - Publication

Centralized hub for verification of complex fire engineered solutions in Scotland: feasibility study

Published: 21 Mar 2019

Independent opinion on the need, appropriateness, potential structure and potential operations of a central hub for assisting in the verification of complex fire engineered designs.

128 page PDF

2.0 MB

128 page PDF

2.0 MB

Contents
Centralized hub for verification of complex fire engineered solutions in Scotland: feasibility study
7 Potential Central Hub Options

128 page PDF

2.0 MB

7 Potential Central Hub Options 

7.1 Introduction

7.1.1 This section outlines a set of potential options for the central hub structure, membership and operation, as based on research presented in Section 3, input from stakeholders summarised in Section 5, and related issue presented in other sections. 

7.1.2 It is also important to discuss those structures that, in the opinion of the author, are not appropriate for Scotland, given the current situation.

7.2 Views on Potential Verification Structures for Scotland

7.2.1 Section 3 presented and discussed several approaches to verification of fire engineered designs:

  • Internal review / self-certification
  • Private certification
  • Peer review (various levels)
  • Multi-actor review and approval (government and private sector)
  • Multiple verification routes
  • Government opinion / determination / view

7.2.1.1 Given the reasons stated in Section 3, it is the opinion of the author that Scotland is not yet ready for self-certification, although this might be a reasonable long-term target. Lack of fire engineers, competency / qualifications system, and the diversity and complexity of fire engineering compared to other engineering disciplines are among the major concerns. 

7.2.1.2 Given the reasons stated in Section 3, it is the opinion of the author that private certification of fire engineered designs may not be the best option for Scotland at this time, given shortcomings around qualifications of persons, qualifications systems, and the like, as outlined for ‘self-certification above.

7.2.1.3 It is the opinion of the author that an adequately regulated and managed peer-review system can be beneficial to Scotland. Peer-review is used currently, and largely seems to work adequately. Improvements can arguably be made if issues associated with qualifications, competency and conflict of interest (ethics) are addressed, and a more systematic approach to when required and how used, are addressed. However, it is recommended that this be included as part of a system led by government review and approvals (LAVs) and not independent.

7.2.1.4 Given the resource limitations around fire engineers in Scotland, and limited resources for LAVs and the SFRS, it does not seem practicable to move towards a multi-actor verification system at this time, at least in the breadth of actors involved in Germany or the layers of requirements of Singapore. There does not seem to be a need for the additional layers of review and associated costs: the need is more around supplementing the existing system. However, aspects of the multi-actor approach are helpful and should be considered, including qualifications requirements and the like.

7.2.1.5 It is the opinion of the author that a multiple verification approach, based on level / complexity of design, could be beneficial for Scotland, in that a majority of designs are ‘prescriptive’ (Technical Handbook compliant), with the next greatest number ‘minor’ deviations, and the smallest number the ‘full’ fire engineered designs. By having three distinct approaches to compliance, i.e., prescriptive, ‘prescribed performance’, and full performance (fire engineered) designs, resource can be allocated where needed based on the number of designs undertaken within each level. Such a system would be helped by introduction of a ‘fire verification method’ as well, although that is not required. 

7.2.1.6 It is the opinion of the author that Scotland should retain the Ministerial Views process, and the Ministerial Relaxation process, as currently exists. The ability to have an appeals mechanism, prior to entering the judiciary system, provides more opportunity for identifying and resolving issues within the sector.

7.2.2 Considering the various options explored as part of this research, and considering the feedback from stakeholders on the concept of a central ‘hub’ for review of fire engineered designs, it is the opinion of the author that for Scotland, a system that contains aspects of maintaining the current government verification authority (LAV), with peer-review if needed, but largely circumvented by implementation of a ‘central review hub’ for fire engineered designs (along the lines of the Japanese system), would seem to fit best the verification needs and resource constraints within Scotland.  

7.3 Options for Potential Structures

7.3.1 Determining that some type of resource for review of fire engineered designs will be helpful for Scotland, and that such a resource needs to fit within the existing Scottish building regulatory and verification system, is the first step. The next step is considering the structure, charge, responsibilities and make-up of such a resource.

7.3.2 Broadly, it is suggested that such a resource be a concentration of required expertise to review, provide comments, and develop a consensus expert opinion on the appropriateness, completeness and adequacy of fire engineered designs in Scotland, as a resource for LAVs which are charged with passing judgment on such designs. Such a ‘hub’ of expertise could take many forms. 

7.3.3 While many forms are possible, it is suggested that based on the existing legislation and situation in Scotland, there are four fundamental constructs which seem most appropriate to consider: 

  • a new independent body reporting to government
  • a new body / entity reporting to local authorities 
  • the existing SFRS FEG or some variation thereof, or 
  • an entity of the fire engineering community, perhaps the Institution of Fire Engineers, Scottish Branch, or other.  

7.3.4 Each of these constructs could in turn have variations. A key consideration in each option is staffing and access to subject material experts.

7.3.4.1 A clear message emerged from the stakeholder discussions about the value of a ‘gatekeeper’ to vet designs as submitted and to make decisions (or help make decisions) as to whether they warrant review by the hub or not. While views diverged with regards to whether all designs should go to the hub or not, the need of a qualified ‘gatekeeper’ seems essential, and having someone allocated to this fulltime, at the start, would provide flexibility and confidence. As such, it is the opinion of the author that all options include a fulltime ‘gatekeeper’ (coordinator). 

7.3.4.1.1 To be successful, it is suggested that the gatekeeper would need to be a rather senior expert, well-respected by all key stakeholder groups, who possesses considerable depth and breadth of knowledge of both fire engineering and of the verification process.  Arguably, the fire engineering knowledge and experience is more pertinent given that verification of fire engineering design is the primary purpose of having a hub. However, knowledge of how fire engineering fits within the building design as a whole is critical as well, since the fire design cannot be divorced from the holistic performance of a building. As such, the gatekeeper would need to be able to make a judgement on what subject matter experts are needed, in addition to fire engineering. 

7.3.4.2 Another staffing question is whether the hub has a sitting panel of experts, which serve for perhaps a 2- or 3-year term, or if there is simply a pool of panellists, from which a panel is formed when review by the hub is needed. In some respects, this cannot be fully answered without knowing how many designs will go to the hub, and what the logistics would be if panels had to be formed rather often. There is also the question as to whether the panellists would be ‘staff’ or contractors. 

7.3.4.2.1 For stability and consistency, it is the opinion of the author that there should be a ‘standing’ panel, with each member serving a 2- or 3-year term (with re-appointment possible). 

7.3.4.2.2 If the number of fire engineered designs warranted it, the panellists could be full time employed by the hub. However, it does not seem as if this would be the case in Scotland, except perhaps if all fire engineered designs (including any deviation from the Technical Handbooks), were sent to the hub for review.  

7.3.4.2.3 In either of the above options, any real or perceived conflicts of interest, non-disclosure requirements, and the like would have to be carefully managed for any panellist (which would arguably be less of an issue if fulltime staff). 

7.3.4.3 When considering the viability of a fire engineered design in the context of the holistic performance of a building, many types of expertise may be needed to review aspects of the design or comment on interactions with other systems. In addition, for comprehensive fire engineered designs that utilise computational analysis tools, specific expertise for review may be needed. Use of innovative materials and systems might trigger the need to additional expertise as well. 

7.3.4.3.1 While the hub needs access to a broad range of expertise, it is not necessary to have the subject material experts as fulltime members of the hub. Rather, the necessary expertise should be identified to the extent possible in advance and appropriate persons contracted to provide expert services if and when needed. 

7.3.4.3.2 As with the concern with panellists above, any real or perceived conflicts of interest, non-disclosure requirements, and the like would have to be carefully managed for any subject material expert. 

7.3.5 Given the above considerations, a set of potential options under the four fundamental constructs of the hub is presented below.

Option A – Independent body, full-time staff, contract experts, reporting to government

7.3.5.1 The primary attraction of this construct would be the formation of an independent body, which does not currently exist, that would report directly to government. To maintain the current Ministerial Views process, the reporting would most likely be direct to Scottish Ministers outside of the Building Standards Division (BSD) and the local authority verifiers (LAVs). 

7.3.5.1.1 In this variation, there would be a fulltime gatekeeper (coordinator) and panel members (suggest maximum of four, in addition to the gatekeeper), and a reliance upon a collection of subject matter experts who would be called upon when needed. 

7.3.5.1.2 It is assumed that this construct would necessitate changes to legislation. The costs of more than five staff (including administrative support) would be rather high, especially if there is not fulltime work (i.e., not a full load of projects to review). 

7.3.5.1.3 While this option is worth considering, it is not clear that a new body, outside of the current system, is necessary. Stakeholders largely report that the system as is works generally well, with challenges in a somewhat small percentage of cases. It is also not clear if the anticipated workload would be proportional to the cost. 

Option B – Independent body, one full-time staff, rotating panellists, contract experts, reporting to government

7.3.5.2 This option is similar to Option A, except that instead of fulltime expert staff (panellists), the panellists are contracted on a rotating basis (2- or 3-year terms), with a limited expectation of workload (perhaps 2-4 days per month). It is difficult to determine exactly what the workload would be at this point, but the estimated number of projects that might need hub review is assumed to be relatively small. 

7.3.5.2.1 As with the above, while this option is worth considering, it is not clear that a new body, outside of the current system, is necessary. Stakeholders largely report that the system as is works generally well, with challenges in a somewhat small percentage of cases. 

Option C – Construct of LABSS, full-time staff, contract experts

7.3.5.3 The primary attraction of this construct would be keeping the hub within the existing verification process, operating as an extension of the LAVs. 

7.3.5.3.1 In this variation, there would be a fulltime gatekeeper (coordinator) and panel members (suggest maximum of four, in addition to the gatekeeper), and a reliance upon a collection of subject matter experts who would be called upon when needed. 

7.3.5.3.2 For this option to work, there would need to be agreement by LABSS and the LAVs that the hub is staffed with a range of experts, as discussed above, and is not fully staffed by LAV personnel. 

7.3.5.3.3 It is assumed that this construct would not necessitate changes to legislation. The costs of more than five staff (including administrative support), however, would be rather high, especially if there is not fulltime work (i.e., not a full load of projects to review). 

7.3.5.3.4 This option is worth considering. Stakeholders largely report that the system as is works generally well, with challenges in a somewhat small percentage of cases. However, it is not clear that the anticipated workload would be proportional to the cost of a large number of fulltime staff.

Option D – Construct of LABSS, one full-time staff, rotating panellists, contract experts 

7.3.5.4 This option is similar to Option C, except that instead of fulltime expert staff (panellists), the panellists are contracted on a rotating basis (2- or 3-year terms), with a limited expectation of workload (perhaps 2-4 days per month). It is difficult to determine exactly what the workload would be at this point, but the estimated number of projects that might need hub review is assumed to be relatively small. 

7.3.5.4.1 For this option to work, there would need to be agreement by LABSS and the LAVs that the hub is staffed with a range of experts, as discussed above, and is not fully staffed by LAV personnel. 

7.3.5.4.2 As with the above, while this option is worth considering. Stakeholders largely report that the system as is works generally well, with challenges in a somewhat small percentage of cases. This option is more cost-effective that Option C. 

Option E – Construct of SFRS, full-time staff

7.3.5.5 The primary attraction of this option is that, in some respects, the hub already exists. 

7.3.5.5.1 However, challenges exist in the legal structuring, given the existing statutory consultee role of the SFRS in the verification process. In addition, it is not clear that there would be a possibility to inject outside experts into the SFRS FEG. At present, all members come from the fire service, with fire engineering knowledge and expertise, but not necessarily verifier or other expertise, as has been noted as being important. Whether the SFRS could contract subject matter experts is also unknown.

7.3.5.5.2 This option needs to be explored in much greater detail relative to the issues noted above. 

Option F – Construct of FE community, full-time staff, contract experts

7.3.5.6 The primary attraction of this construct would be coordination of the hub within the discipline around which the expertise is needed: fire engineering. 

7.3.5.6.1 In principle, this option would be quite similar to Option C above, in that there would be a fulltime gatekeeper (coordinator) and panel members (suggest maximum of four, in addition to the gatekeeper), and a reliance upon a collection of subject matter experts who would be called upon when needed. The difference being this option managed within the fire engineering community.  

7.3.5.6.2 For this option to work, there would need to be agreement by the fire engineering community that the hub be staffed with a range of experts, as discussed above, and is not fully staffed by fire engineers. Importantly, there would need to be a mechanism within the fire engineering community to facilitate this, such as perhaps the Institution of Fire Engineers Scottish Branch.  

7.3.5.6.3 It is assumed that this construct would not necessitate changes to legislation. The costs of more than five staff (including administrative support), however, would be rather high, especially if there is not fulltime work (i.e., not a full load of projects to review). 

7.3.5.6.4 While there are some appealing aspects to this option, it is not clear that a hub for supporting the review of fire engineering should be a construct of the fire engineering community. While there is no doubt that suitable controls can be put in place, the ‘fox guarding the chicken house’ perception would be difficult to overcome. 

Option G – Construct of FE community, one full-time staff, rotating panellists, contract experts

7.3.5.7 This option is similar to Option F, except that instead of fulltime expert staff (panellists), the panellists are contracted on a rotating basis (2- or 3-year terms), with a limited expectation of workload (perhaps 2-4 days per month). It is difficult to determine exactly what the workload would be at this point, but the estimated number of projects that might need hub review is assumed to be relatively small.

7.3.5.7.1 Much like with Option F, while there are some appealing aspects to this option, and the costs of this option would be less than Option F, it is not clear that a hub for supporting the review of fire engineering should be a construct of the fire engineering community. 

7.3.6 At the present time, it is suggested that Option D seems the most attractive in terms of minimal impact on the existing system, relative ease to establish, and minimal costs. There would need to be discussion with LABSS and the LAVs, as well as with the rest of the sector, on exactly how it would be structured, how it would be staffed, and how it would operate, given the other actors and processes involve in the verification system. 

7.3.7 To be successful, all stakeholders would need to buy into the hub concept and agree to use it as per final operating agreement. In particular, success will depend on LAVs agreeing to use the hub in a consistent manner across all local authorities. If this does not occur, the benefit of increasing consistency may not be achieved. 

7.4 Views on Potential Scope of the Hub 

7.4.1 Discussions with stakeholders clearly identified that one of the major challenges being faced is a lack of resources for LAVs, not just in fire engineering, although fire engineering seems to raise the most significant challenges. It was broadly felt that if LAVs were adequately resourced there would be no need for a hub. As understood, ‘adequate resources’ means fire engineers as well as other staff, time, etc. to fulfil the necessary obligations. Since the fire engineering work is not equally distributed in the country, i.e., not all LAVs will see a large number of fire engineered designs, placing a fire engineer in each LAV would be costly and unnecessary for many LAVs. Thus, it was widely agreed that a fundamental purpose of a hub is to provide LAVs with a resource to be used in the review and verification of fire engineered designs, at least those involving ‘high-risk’ buildings, ‘complex’ buildings, and ‘complex’ designs, but also in some cases deviations from the Technical Handbook, as related to the capacity of the LAV to address.

7.4.2 As a resource to the LAVs, a key question is whether the hub (a) makes a decision on verification of design, or (b) provides input to the LAV, who takes the decision. Based on feedback from stakeholder groups, and considering whether there is sufficient cause and benefit to remove decision-making from the LAVs, it is the opinion of the author that the hub should provide input to the LAVs, and that the LAVs retain decision-making authority as currently exists. 

7.4.3 In addition, as noted above, it is the opinion of the author that Scotland should retain the Ministerial Views process, and the Ministerial Relaxation process, as currently exists. The ability to have an appeals mechanism, prior to entering the judiciary system, provides more opportunity for identifying and resolving issues within the sector.

7.4.4 However, there remain issues on what the specific scope of the hub would be, what would trigger review by the hub, and what the expectations of the LAVs would be with regard to advice from the hub.

Scope

7.4.4.1 The basic scope of the hub is to provide an expert review of any fire engineered design submitted to it, in the context of the overall building design and expected operation, to determine if:

7.4.4.1.1 The fire engineered design adequately considers and addresses the building systems and features with which it interacts with regard to compliance with the relevant fire safety Standards, without negatively impacting any other Standards which are applicable to the building design, or without such other Standards impacting on the level of fire safety delivered. While this may seem obvious, issues of energy performance and fire, sustainability and fire, and structure and fire are areas in which potentially ‘competing objectives’ might exist, for which an holistic assessment is needed. In specific occupancies such as hospitals, there may also be issues of ventilation system and alarm system ‘competition’ for such things as ‘containment’ zones (for airborne health hazards) and smoke control, ‘containment’ zones (for airborne hazards) and fire compartments, and nurse alarm and fire alarm, among others. The zoning issue may also be a concern in multi-tenant / multi-occupancy buildings, whether new or existing. These types of complexity need holistic treatment.

7.4.4.1.2 The fire engineered design has adequately characterised and assessed the fire scenarios, design basis fires and conditions of concern given the use of the building, the expected fuel loads, compartment configurations, paths of available egress, the associated vulnerabilities / life safety parameters of occupants, and related issues in meeting the life safety Standard; and, as deemed appropriate, the sustainability of the building against fire threats in meeting the sustainability Standard. This is needed regardless of whether a ‘comparative’ approach, first-principles approach, or probabilistic approach is taken. 

7.4.4.1.3 The fire engineered design has been adequately undertaken, from a technical perspective, including use of appropriately justified data, statistics, analytical methods, and computational methods, with appropriate consideration of sources of uncertainty and variability across all aspects (i.e., data, methods, post-occupancy conditions, etc.). This is needed regardless of whether a ‘comparative’ approach, first-principles approach, or probabilistic approach is taken.

7.4.4.1.4 Where a ‘comparative’ approach has been taken, the fire engineered design has been adequately justified the ‘base case’ for comparison.

7.4.4.1.5 Where new or innovative materials, components and systems are used, that performance (test) data are appropriate, and/or analytical approach taken to demonstrate fitness for purpose of the materials, components and systems are adequately justified. 

Triggers

7.4.4.2 Triggers for review by the hub are difficult to precisely quantify at this time, as discussed above. However, there should be a few fundamental tenets:

7.4.4.2.1 Any fire engineered design for which the responsible person within the LAV believes the scope of the design is outside of the area of expertise of the person or persons within the LAV charged with verifying the design.

7.4.4.2.2 Any fire engineered design for a building deemed to be of ‘high-risk’, such as in Risk Category 3 or 4, as described in Section 4. Note: a decision is needed on whether Scotland wants to move in this direction (i.e., risk categories), and if so, work is needed within Scotland to identify specific risk parameters that are necessary so as to allocate specific building uses / occupancies and/or specific building features (e.g., height) to the associate risk category. 

7.4.4.2.3 Buildings, and building designs, for which the complexity as described in Section 4 is such that the LAV requests assistance in review. This could be the complexity of building (e.g., mixed occupancy with multiple property owners, etc.), complexity of systems (e.g., complex smoke and heat venting, or complex façade system of double-skin design and louvres for control of airflow, etc.), or sophistication of tools of analysis (e.g., CFD software, FEA software, evacuation software, etc).

7.4.4.2.4 Buildings, and building designs, for which innovative materials, components, or systems, or innovative methods of construction, are used and the LAV requests assistance in review.  This could include new façade materials and systems, new CLT systems, and more.

7.4.4.2.5 In addition, it is suggested that there should be a pathway by which a fire engineer, or a building developer / owner, can request review by the hub. The decision should be made along with the LAV, but there should not be barriers to requesting a review if the building owner / developer or their fire engineer requests such. 

Expectations of LAVs Once Given a Hub Opinion

7.4.4.3 With respect to expectations of the LAVs with regard to advice from the hub, it is suggested that the LAVs consider the opinion of the hub as having at least the weight of a Ministerial View. While not a View, any opinion should be the considered recommendation of well-respected leaders of a cross-section of building-related disciplines, including fire engineering. If the hub is set up and resourced appropriately, there should be no technical reason by which to overturn the opinion of the hub. While there may be non-technical reasons that a LAV may not accept a hub opinion, it would be expected that the hub opinion would accompany any subsequent submittal for a Ministerial View or other legal challenge.  

7.5 Number / Qualifications / Service of Panel Members

7.5.1 Assuming a decision to pursue the Option D approach for a central review hub, it has been suggested that there would be a fulltime gatekeeper (coordinator) and a set of part-time (contract) panel members, and reliance upon a collection of subject matter experts who would be called upon when needed.

7.5.1.1 It has been suggested that, in addition to the gatekeeper (coordinator) that the primary hub members include four additional panel members. This should be deliberated as part of the formation of a hub, if it goes forward. However, four is suggested as providing a suitable representation of most likely needed expertise, while keeping the numbers small to facilitate decision-making. The base number may change depending on exactly how the SFRS FEG would interface with the hub. At present, the suggested disciplines are as follows:

  • Gatekeeper (coordinator), who has appropriate knowledge, expertise and experience with fire engineering, verification, building regulations, and if possible, building design
  • Verifier (fire experience, as well as more broadly)
  • Fire Engineer (design experience)
  • Architect / Architectural Technologist
  • SFRS FEG member 

7.5.1.2 It is suggested that each member commit to a term of 2- or 3-years (with reappointment possible), with a time commitment of at least 2-4 days per month. The actual need, however, will not really be known until a hub is developed and the scope and operation are fully agreed. Ideally, a pool of at least 15 persons, three-each who meet the requirements of the five positions, can be identified. From this pool, members will be appointed to serve terms, rotating out after completion of their service. If there is agreement on the five positions, it is suggested that the relevant organisations, LABSS, SFRS FEG, the fire engineers, and the architects and architectural technologists, nominate members, and the leaders of the organisations (or their designees) select the panellists. Note: It could be that appointments should come from government. If that is so decided, nominations could be sent to BSD, who could sit on the panel. The main issue is that this be a group that meets requirements, can be expected to work well together, and as a group, will have the respect of the community. 

7.5.1.3 An extensive range of subject matter expertise may be needed over the lifetime of the hub. This includes acousticians, architects, architectural technologies, CFD experts, electrical engineers, evacuation software experts, finite element analysis (FEA) experts, health and safety experts, mechanical engineers, physiologists, psychologists, structural engineers, toxicologists, fire scientists, fire test experts, and more. External (outside of Scotland) experts in fire engineering, building control, and related disciplines may be valuable as well. A list of expertise should be compiled, and as above, a set of experts identified, who are able and willing to commit time to serve as needed. Service in this case might be agreement to serve in the pool of experts for a 2- or 3-year term (with reappointment possible), with expectations of 2-4 days per project, and perhaps only 2-3 projects per year. This is very difficult to gauge, however, so flexibility is needed. 

7.5.2 With respect to qualifications of panel members, that will necessarily vary by discipline.  However, all members should hold a university degree (honours, ideally with post-graduate credentials, as appropriate) and the highest level of qualification appropriate to their discipline (e.g., chartership or similar). Each member of the hub should be well-respected both within their discipline as well as across disciplines as well, to the extent possible. They should have extensive experience in their area of practice and expertise, suggested as at least 10 years, but perhaps as much as 15 or 20 years, and have demonstrable experience in the design or review of complex fire engineered designs and/or buildings which involved fire engineering solutions. 

7.5.3 Active panellists should not currently be involved in fire engineering and design. While this will significantly limit the pool, independence from current design work and corporate affiliation seems necessary to achieve buy in from all sectors. If the hub had sufficient work to warrant secondment, that perhaps might be an option, if appropriately controlled. Of course, if the pool is too small, certain experts may have to be drawn from industry, and clear means of avoidance of conflict of interest, nondisclosure, and the like would need to be drawn up.

7.5.4 Panellists and experts serving in the hub would most likely seek some protection from liability for the opinions that they offer. An appropriate liability scheme would therefore be needed. It may be that the liability component will influence the structure and operation of the hub and its members.  

7.6 Time and Cost Considerations

7.6.1 A central review hub only makes sense if properly resourced to be able to respond when needed and conclude its work within a reasonably short period of time. Otherwise, the delays might result in more problems than if the hub does not exist.

7.6.2 Ultimately, decisions on funding will be developed within Scotland by the relevant stakeholders. However, it seems a multi-layer funding model could work, including:

7.6.2.1 Government, which might provide seed funding, perhaps physical office space and equipment, computer equipment and software resources, and perhaps administrative support.

7.6.2.2 Local authorities, which could perhaps use levies on the warrant process, perhaps specifically for designs designated to go to the hub, to support hub panellists. This could work if the local authorities assure such funds go only to support the hub.

7.6.2.3 Developers and owners could pay a specific fee, especially if they request directly that the hub carry out the review for their project. Since the LAV ultimately makes the decision on acceptability, there should not be a ‘bribe’ concern. 

7.6.3 The costs to operate the hub will greatly depend on agreed structure. Assuming for now that the Option D approach as discussed above is adopted, requirements would include:

  • One fulltime, expert as gatekeeper / coordinator of the hub
  • Administrative support
  • Funds for four panellists, nominally 24-48 days per year, plus expenses
  • Physical meeting space and computers (perhaps)
  • Funds for subject matter experts, perhaps 2-4 days per project (assuming perhaps 2-4 projects per year needing specific expertise)

7.6.4 It is suggested that the gatekeeper (coordinator) should be able to make a determination on whether a design should be reviewed by the hub within 2 business days. Assuming the hub panellists meet monthly, small projects might be completed within one month from submittal, and larger projects within 2-3 months, depending on complexity. 

7.6.4.1 Should frequency of meetings reduce, time scales might reduce as well. However, it should not be expected that any project be reviewed in less than 2 weeks. 

7.6.4.2 In some cases, projects will have many phases over months (or years), so response time would be as per above based on phase. 

7.7 Term of Hub, Audits and Reviews

7.7.1 Most stakeholders do not see that a hub is needed indefinitely. There are opportunities to increase the fire engineering knowledge within LAVs, and ultimately, the fire engineering community would like to move to a certification system approach, where qualified firms (persons) can certify designs (some, if not all). However, the time needed to reach a certification system could be a decade or more. 

7.7.2 To help get to that point, it is suggested to think in terms of the hub operating on an initial term of five years, with the possibility of extension, if needed, in five-year increments. This is similar to how the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) is formulated, via an inter-governmental agreement (http://www.abcb.gov.au/ABCB/The-Board, last accessed on 22 April 2018). An agreement similar in form to this might be suitable for the hub as well.   

7.7.3 To assess how the hub is performing, relative to its charge, it is suggested that annual audits be conducted, looking at such factors as number of designs reviewed, acceptance by LAVs, customer satisfaction, and the like. A detailed review might be conducted every 2 years, and the 4th-year review would include consideration of the continuation of the hub for an additional five years.

7.7.4 Details of the scopes of audits / reviews would need to be developed as part of the formation of the hub. It is expected that the system might mirror that used currently for assessment of the LAVs. 


Contact

Email: sarah.waugh@gov.scot