Hackitt Review drives increase in checks and compliance in fire safety

Hackitt Review drives increase in checks and compliance in fire safety

In the wake of the Hackitt Review, Fire Industry Association members are reporting a significant increase in enquiries relating to the fire safety of buildings, says AMA Research.

There has been an increase in checks and tests for compliance with safety regulations; although the latest data provides limited evidence that this is impacting on new orders for fire protection products, with no formal legislation in relation to this introduced at this stage.

The total market size for active fire protection systems in 2018 was estimated at over £650 million (at manufacturers selling prices). The market saw steady growth to 2016, in line with higher levels of construction output across key end-use sectors such as education and offices. Data suggests weakening growth in 2017 and 2018, with latest estimates indicating that construction output values fell in some sectors of the non-domestic construction market, particularly in the offices, education and health sectors. Growth in domestic output is stronger, although this sector accounts for a relatively small proportion of the active fire protection market.

The sector is mature, which in the absence of any significant changes to Building Regulations and Standards in recent years, has been primarily driven by the wider performance of the UK building and construction market. That said, publicity and interest surrounding the fire protection industry has increased following the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

However, higher levels of publicity and the greater awareness of fire safety measures should stimulate demand for active fire protection products in the medium to longer term, particularly in the replacement sector. This combined with a broadly positive outlook in the construction sector should provide reasonably positive market conditions in the short to medium term.

Forecasts suggest slower growth over the next few years, with no immediate significant technical changes expected in the regulatory aspect of fire protection as a result of the Hackitt Review, the main driver of future growth is the moderately positive outlook in construction activity in general, although some output sectors which generate significant demand for fire protection products are forecast to slow down in the next few years.

Key end use sectors for the active fire protection market include industrial and office markets. Annual construction output in both of these sectors is set to decrease between 2017 and 2019, while total construction output across the economy as a whole is forecast to continue growing at a moderate rate. This weaker anticipated growth in key sectors will have a negative impact on demand for active fire protection, particularly on the suppression sector.

In the next 2-3 years, it is likely there will be very modest overall growth in the construction industry, reflecting the challenging economy, lower levels of business and consumer confidence, rising costs driven by a weaker Sterling and potentially an increasingly severe skills and manpower shortage.

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