Suzanne Eaglen is head of compliance for Kier Housing Maintenance. Here, she explains her career journey and why fire safety works are so important.
“Ensuring that all homes are fire safe and compliant is something that has always been of paramount importance. Everyone should be able to live in a home that they know is both safe and compliant, I’m proud to work towards delivering this.
As head of compliance, it’s my role to make sure that we are robust in our standard operating procedures on all areas of compliance and have the best team in place to help deliver this.
My route into this role started 14 years ago when I started work as a gas administrator for Circle Housing (now Clarion), making sure that all gas service works were compliant. I then progressed and trained as a building surveyor and became heavily involved with the delivery of fire risk assessments.
I’ve worked across all areas of planned maintenance but for me, fire safety is the most challenging and rewarding; the compliance industry is complex and at this moment is changing rapidly. Landlords are trying to act to ensure the safety of their residents during this period of flux and new regulations and contractors like Kier Housing Maintenance have a vital role to play in that.
It’s not a case of simply doing the job the client has given us and moving on. Take fire doors for example. The job doesn’t end after installation. We need to work with clients to build in a series of post-installation checks to ensure the ongoing integrity of the door. If say, door closers have been removed or hinges painted over, the fire door won’t be able to perform its function and resident safety will be compromised. Most of the time we need to work with our clients to help define their needs before moving to delivery (and my past experience at Circle is invaluable here). We must collaborate to get it right – there is no room for error.
As well as fire door replacements, our fire safety works can include fire door replacements, fire alarm servicing and emergency lighting, as well as sprinkler installation and testing. A really proud moment for me was my involvement in the project to undertake emergency fire remedial works at the Chalcot Estate in Camden. Kier had been involved in the emergency evacuation of 650 families on the Friday evening from the tower blocks in the days following Grenfell. I then met the client on Sunday to begin the initial site set up and mobilise the workforce.
As for the future, the government have committed to implementing all recommendations from the Hackitt review, which is great, and as an industry, as practitioners, we have a key role to play in defining how that will actually work in practice in way that will ultimately benefit residents. We have an opportunity to make a positive impact on people’s lives and their homes – there’s a lot to do.
To read more about the fire safety works we deliver and the Kier Housing Maintenance Fire Safety Commitment, click here