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Topic Title: Fire risk, commercial
Topic Summary: are we responsible for this?
Created On: 06 February 2010 09:55 AM
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 06 February 2010 09:55 AM
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Zs

Posts: 2775
Joined: 20 July 2006

I think I need to cover my butt on something. First let me give you the flavour of this job before my question.

It used to be a hairdryer factory and has been derelict for a couple of years. it is now being converted into two small office rooms up and down, and a huge empty storage area. Massive. Mezzanine floor built of H shaped steels and scaffolding. Damp, miserable, cobwebs. In its day a good electrical installation, plenty of bonding, plenty of trunking (too small now but probably ok before it was added to).

It used to be 3PN and I was asked to move the supply round a corner, live. I refused of course. By the time I started the job the supply had been moved, changed to a TNCS and only one phase connected. As if by magic on a Sunday if you get my drift but nice neat job.

I'm on a price which is ridiculously low. the client is buying the stuff himself and comes with me to the wholesaler to pay because I'm certain he thinks I'm on a bung from them. He refused to buy bigger trunking, asked me to clip to the wall.........Delayed by a week waiting for him to consult another electrician, he of the amazing moving supply head I believe, about the trunking issue...........got my 4 x 4 trunking yesterday...............Asked for five minutes help to hold a bit up while I secured it at the top of a two stage ladder...... was told to get my own help.

I insisted on RF smoke alarms throughout to save me installation time on my price and now he has found out how much they cost he's trying to scratch them. Worry not, the smokes will go in. He stood and watched me tracing some old cables round the warehouse yesterday with a flying lead and a socket opener. Asked me to cut the crap and just connect them...........


OKAYYY. That's what is going on in Zs's world at the moment. It's a pig of a job. We are dealing with a client who wants a perfect job done extremely cheaply and acts as though he is being ripped off.

My first question is this.

I have found out that he runs an insurance company. One of those where if you have fallen over in the street they will help you to sue someone. The storage area is going to be used for storing cars which have been involved in accidents. The insurance companies' claims assessors/engineers will come to the building to inspect the cars and make a call on whether or not they are to be repaired or written-off and then they will fight for a good deal on behalf of the client, for a fee.

So I asked what he was doing about a fire alarm system or sprinklers etc.

Nothing of course.

That's a long way round of asking you your views on how best to document my work when it is done and what is required in an area where not only are there going to be volatile fuels, but volatile fuels in possibly unsound containers (smashed up cars).

I'm worried about this. Do we, as electricians have any responsibility for the rest of the installation? I would normally provided a circuit for an alarm system and then let the alarm company handle the rest but what strikes me here is that by energising the electricity I am providing a spark hazard.

Question two will follow in a day or so......You just have to seed the old air heater that I am now expected to connect........But I'll get some details off the labels and ask you about that later.

Zs
 06 February 2010 10:29 AM
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John Peckham

Posts: 7371
Joined: 23 April 2005

Zs

You are not responsible for deciding if fire protection is necessary unless you carried out the Fire Risk Assessment. You don'thave to fit it unless you are contracted to do so. Your work needs to meet BS7671:2008 and the agreed specification for the job.

Having the customer buy the materials is always a bad idea. He is taking the p*ss taking you to the wholesalers and getting your discount. If he wants to supply the materials let him do so by giving him a list and telling him when you want them. If you are supplying trhe materials and run out then that is your fault. If the customer is supplying them and you don't have something you sit about and wait at his cost.

Sounds like you need to be very polite but assertive with this customer or he will take the p*ss at every opportunity. Do only what you are contracted to do anything else at an agreed price.

-------------------------
John Peckham

http://www.astutetechnicalservices.co.uk/
 06 February 2010 10:43 AM
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westonpa

Posts: 1771
Joined: 10 October 2007

The person responsible for the premises is responsible for the duties listed in part 2 of:

http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si2005/20051541.htm

Regards.
 06 February 2010 11:15 AM
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Zs

Posts: 2775
Joined: 20 July 2006

Useful document, thank you westonpa. I think I'll do a 'what I did' letter at the end of all this and will refer to that. Fortunately my quote has a massive disclaimer on it and a detailed list.

And yes, JP I'm unpopular because of how careful I'm being with what I agree to. This fellow is used to using cowboy tradesMen and by comparison I must seem like a central london traffic warden. Eyes wide open doesn't make the whole process any easier. Stressy when the customer is tight isn't it?

I just don't want any accusations of negligence bouncing back onto me. He clearly has no intention of putting in any fire security. I doubt very much if any paperwork has been completed prior to the work.

I should be finished this week though. Joy.

on a lighter note....A text from Martyn D Came through shortly after I posted this. Mart does lots of commercial so I thought it would be a smattering of advice for me.

But no, it simply says 'We've got a big digger in our garden '

Boys and Toys.

Zs
 06 February 2010 12:02 PM
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JQ

Posts: 54
Joined: 08 August 2007

Zs
I think we've all been there. Doesn't matter how careful you are when looking at a job, or how well you suss out the customer. There will be one that gets under the radar and you end up working for peanuts on a job you hate. That's life.

If your quote is detailed, your disclaimers good and you follow westonpa's link it sounds like you've covered yourself as much as you can.

Johns advice is good - it might be time to stand your ground.

Were the DNO notified? I do mostly domestic, but any supply move I've been involved with has meant the DNO engineers actually moving the cable.

Was there an EIC issued for the supply move? Is there at least Ze measurements before and after the move? It may look like a neat job, but without results you don't know how good the connections are. And would you be happy to connect your installation to a dodgy supply?

If the customer is unwilling or unable to answer, then it may give you some leverage.

JQ
 06 February 2010 12:10 PM
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rocknroll

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Where a commercial premises has 'change of use' the owner/landlord/agent has a reponsibility to inform the LA so they can determine the impact on that particular zone, you all live in zones and they are coded, one code that you can easy understand is NAZ (noise abatement zone), there are lots of codes relating to security, fire, explosion, emissions etc; so had the LA been involved (planning consent) they would have seriously considered the storage of damaged vehicles as this has the potential of a serious fire/explosion risk in the area, the general rule of law is that where there is storage of damaged vehicles the danger must be minimised by removal of the battery and draining of the fuel tanks, the local fire officer would have insisted on this and I suspect the owners insurance company as well.

Under the terms of the building regs all you are required to do is ensure the equipment you use is relevant to the current standards, BS, IEC whatever and your work is to the current standards. there is no need to start getting involved in disclaimers, caveats etc, as this technically gets you involved and your disclaimer is then open to interpretation and could be used against you by any good barrister if an incident occurs.

Your brief is to do the electrical work, test it, certificate it submit an invoice and thats it. simples.

In the law there is no such thing as 'ass covering' once you make and/or record a statement you become responsible for that statement and it can be used against you.

regards

-------------------------
"Take nothing but a picture,
leave nothing but footprints!"
-------------------------
"Oh! The drama of it all."
-------------------------
"You can throw all the philosophy you like at the problem, but at the end of the day it's just basic electrical theory!"
-------------------------

Edited: 06 February 2010 at 01:09 PM by rocknroll
 06 February 2010 02:32 PM
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normcall

Posts: 8110
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Just a couple of point which are really a little late at this stage.

Customer wants to buy own materials - let them, all of them down to fixing and what to buy. Do not provide a list and the job will need to be on a labour only basis.

If that doesn't work, then the magic words 'I'll give the fire officer/planning dept a call....'. The answer and attitude will tell you volumes but can back fire.

I used to do a lot of work for our local authority . One day they wanted fire alarms installed in all their community centres. My magic words of 'I'll just pop in the fire station and check they have no queries', produced a look that could kill and I never did any more work for them.

-------------------------
Norman
 06 February 2010 05:44 PM
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Testit

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We are dealing with a client who wants a perfect job done extremely cheaply and acts as though he is being ripped off


Sounds like most customers i come across.. usually dont end up working for them though they go somewhere cheaper...

I agree with JP.. list and tell them what to supply... I contract for daily rate if access or work is restricted due to their shortfalls to ensure I get paid...

Customer like this I would be looking for some payment along the way as likely they will quibble complaining about efficiency of work etc and attempt to stiff you when its time to pay... if they cant pay something on account I'd consider whether to walk away until some payment is made... but thats just me...

Oh and jsut ensure that the circuits you work on are ok, anything not touched I wouldnt consider myself responsible for, but would take into account as to whether something else should be done in the first place...

-------------------------
Online Services - http://propertydevelopment.org.uk

Experience can sometimes show that cost prevails over quality and safety, such little self-value that people hold.
 06 February 2010 07:53 PM
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DOUGIE1000

Posts: 4148
Joined: 13 August 2005

i had a job recently where it was a very large shop split in two. There is a chip shop/burger shop in the next room. Same address two front doors, two seperate businesses

Landlord found out that roof needed replaced in to get the funds she told me not to in ahead with cctv, fire alarm and emergency lights and just do must.

-------------------------
Dougie
Power Plus Electrical.co.uk

My mission is to live as long as possible......so far so good!
 06 February 2010 08:52 PM
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Cremeegg

Posts: 521
Joined: 13 July 2007

Fire risk assessments are not your responsibility but the occupier of the buildings i.e. your client who should also have checked out any restraints under planning law so far as change of use from factory to what it will be shortly. There are many different Planning Use Classes - retail, banking, restaurants, take aways, factories etc.

I agree with others - document your work carefully as you appear to have done already. State clearly what you've done.

I'd also put an "informative" on your final receipt along the lines of ...... it would be usual in a building of this type to provide suitable fire safety systems - suggest he seeks professional advice from a suitably qualified person. Local Council planning consents nearly always have a similar advisory to the effect that this planning consent doesn't absolve you from the need to comply with the relevant Building Regulations.

If you're on good terms with your wholesaler why not explain the situation to them and get them to cut your discount when he comes in with you to pay. They can always give you greater discount when you are on your own.

I usually insist I buy or if I don't buy it then I don't offer a warranty on goods as it could be any old knock off stock from Fleabay. It's all in my standard T&C.
 07 February 2010 05:17 AM
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ebee

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Frankly Zs I'd have walked away from this customer.
Not much help sorry and it's easy to say at this stage as I suspect all of these niggles came piecemeal and not upfront in one go.

-------------------------
Regards,
Ebee (M I S P N)

Knotted cables cause Lumpy Lektrik
 10 February 2010 11:47 PM
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Zs

Posts: 2775
Joined: 20 July 2006

Well well well. And when was your intuition ever wrong?

I've been out a lot lately on account of the stalker being back and choosing to ignore the fact and just not be here. So this evening I was in the pub with neighbours I barely know from the other end of my street.

I was blathering on about this job, the lack of, well, shall we say integrity going on, the prescription methadone bottles I find every day and how I have Thomas Higgins on mental standby for if I don't get paid, and how I've had another key cut so I can whip the fuses if I have to.

Nice fella asks me if the insurance company is called xxx. Yes. Every last one of them put their head in their hands and groaned.

They are dodgy. I must live in a fantastic bubble? Was clueless.

I asked him who he is? 'Detective Inspector Bloggs, Amersham CID'. Most interested to know now where the new head office is.

Oooh la.

I've asked him to let me finish my job fully and safely so that I have a legal route to payment. I'm too far down the road to walk away now and I've put 24 meters of 100x100 trunking up with about 12 corners, some of them Zs made. Had to invent a pulley system to get some of them up to the top of a two stage ladder. Dead good and I'm proud of it and I want to see it with the lids on.

No wonder I don't feel welcome there. I'm too straight. If you run a dodgy insurance company I don't suppose you'd be remotely interested in something as tiny as BS7671. And then you get landed with me! Poor blokes. Only yesterday I told the methadone boy that he wouldn't know what an eddy current was if it jumped up and bit him on the bum so he should stop telling me how to do my job and let me get on with it.

I googled him...bad news. Famous, but bad news.

But I shan't bother you with the old gas fired air heater question, I'll just tell them that I'll connect it when it has a gas certificate or something.

It's not dull is it?

Zs

Edited: 11 February 2010 at 12:12 AM by Zs
 11 February 2010 06:44 AM
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ebee

Posts: 5663
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Isn't Geometry wonderful?

-------------------------
Regards,
Ebee (M I S P N)

Knotted cables cause Lumpy Lektrik
 11 February 2010 06:29 PM
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topmark

Posts: 124
Joined: 27 March 2009

your jobs are never dull are they girl!
trust you well

mark......
 11 February 2010 07:04 PM
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50spark

Posts: 64
Joined: 07 May 2009

Originally posted by: Zs


I insisted on RF smoke alarms throughout to save me installation time on my price and now he has found out how much they cost he's trying to scratch them. Worry not, the smokes will go in.
Zs





so the client doesnt want equipment and you insist on installing it, do you expect him to pay for this, or are you doing this for free.

Most people would walk from clients like this, have you had money from him in stages? orhoping to get it once you have completed it!!.

i think you will be posting later that he is not returning phone calls and he owes you lots of cash.
 11 February 2010 07:16 PM
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rocknroll

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Its makes me wonder whats going on there, the whole bunch of you are in breach of quite a few regulations.

Planning Act defined for starters;

'The carrying out of building, engineering, mining or other operations in, on, over or under land or the making of any material change in the use of any building or other land.'

regards

-------------------------
"Take nothing but a picture,
leave nothing but footprints!"
-------------------------
"Oh! The drama of it all."
-------------------------
"You can throw all the philosophy you like at the problem, but at the end of the day it's just basic electrical theory!"
-------------------------
 11 February 2010 07:41 PM
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OMS

Posts: 19429
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Oh dear oh dear oh dear - pity you didn't have that neighbourly chat before starting work Zs.

My advice - chase your money and put the LA Planning and Building Control department numbers on speed dial. When (if) you get paid then make the call. If you don't get paid then make the call anyway.

With a bit of luck teh boys in blue serge will be taking an interest as well - but I wouldn't count on it frankly

In this life you need to know when it's time to run for cover - and this is one of those days. Get out of the situation as fast as you can and don't go back.

Well well well. And when was your intuition ever wrong?


Exactly - so why didn't you listen ?

Regards and Good Luck

OMS

-------------------------
Failure is always an option
 16 February 2010 10:22 PM
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ebee

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Any update Zs ?

"Well well well. And when was your intuition ever wrong? "
I do hope you didn't take umbridge at my original statement . I was not being sarcy .

-------------------------
Regards,
Ebee (M I S P N)

Knotted cables cause Lumpy Lektrik
 17 February 2010 07:56 AM
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gkenyon

Posts: 4478
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Sorry to come in late on this one, but a cautionary note.

Most electrical installation work (including some maintenance & repair work) is covered by CDM Regulations 2007.

Even if the whole project is not notifiable, then, there are still Designer and Contractor duties that apply at all times. Similarly, unless the Client is Domestic Customer for their own domestic property, the Client also has duties that apply all the time.

Here's the rub - The Client, Designer and Contractor have a duty to ensure that they, and each other, know all their responsibilities under CDM. In this case - questionable that the Client knows their duties, so as Designer and/or Contractor, you may also be partly at risk of prosecution, even if not "liability".

Hmmmmm

-------------------------
Eur Ing Graham Kenyon CEng MIET TechIOSH
 17 February 2010 09:00 AM
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westonpa

Posts: 1771
Joined: 10 October 2007

Graham,

Considering the work being done can you think of an example scenario where the contractor may get prosecuted if they have carried out their work to the relevant building/electrical standards and for/in the conditions described above......and then how they would then ensure this does not happen?

Regards.
IET » Wiring and the regulations » Fire risk, commercial

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