Following a review of passive fire installation works, a rigorous assessment process for applicators and installers has been established by the Canterbury District Health Board. This has lessons for other organisations to help improve installation quality.
GHD OLSSON FIRE & RISK was engaged in mid-2016 by Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) to review some post-earthquake passive fire installation works. The inspection revealed basic installation mistakes by the contracted specialist applicators and, on investigation, showed that some of the personnel used were untrained.
During a meeting, it was discussed how CDHB could gain greater certainty over the quality of installation.
Minimising the number of manufacturers
The first step to improving quality was to reduce the number of manufacturers whose products were being fitted throughout the CDHB properties, which numbered over 10 across the years.
A matrix of sample site construction scenarios was produced. This formed part of a supplier questionnaire and procurement process, asking manufacturers to provide tested solutions only. This reduced the number of manufacturers from 10 down to two, and they provided over 90% of the solutions using tested products. The manufacturers also committed to provide ongoing training to CDHB-approved applicators.
To provide further certainty, a process was devised whereby applicators had to apply for permission to work for CDHB.
Practical ability assessed
Installation staff had to undergo in-house CDHB-supervised training with a written test after they had been accepted and before starting any works.
If they passed, their practical ability was then assessed at a test facility purpose-built in Christchurch to assess the applicators’ installation team’s practical ability to work under time constraints and provide compliant installations.
The installers had to demonstrate a knowledge of QA procedures and produce the necessary QA reports. These installations were then taken apart and checked against the test standard, and marks were awarded for accuracy and compliance. At that point, if the applicator passed, they were issued with an approval.
The test facility also has the capability to mimic the DHB-tested solutions matrix and is able to be adjusted to suit any new applications that may be tested in the future. Applicators are required to resit the test on an annual basis and provide copies of any additional training received during that time.
Access to fire walls limited
As a further measure, access to fire walls has been restricted to a permit-only basis. Any trade making an opening has to have a permit to work and is accompanied by a member of the applicator staff who ensures that the opening is temporarily sealed or, preferably, sealed on the day.
Software program keeps track
A full inspection program has also been developed using Clarinspect, a local supplier of inspection software. This program allows CDHB to follow the opening from cradle to grave using a unique identifier, including all repairs, inspections and reinstallations.
It also tracks the installer from initial training and test scores and links them to openings installed by them during their time working within CDHB.
This system is now being used across the existing and new properties within CDHB jurisdiction and has been adopted as a standard on a new multi-million dollar hospital on the West Coast.
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