2009 - The beginning
Ben Bradford founded the firm on SEVEN guiding principles which describe what we want to embody and the unique character, spirit and identity that is BB7.
Supported by Director Steve Michael, the plan was to establish BB7 as a world-class consulting team and maintain our uncompromising principles as we grow.
Today our values are the bedrock of our culture and still provide inspiration and guidance for our people, shaping everything that we do. This shines through in all areas of our work – from recruitment and learning through to project delivery and innovation.
The founding principles, shaped a unique culture which is still a hard strategic asset, today.
2010 - Growing the team
The BB7 team were joined by Dominic Way and Thomas Bradford.
Dominic brought national and international experience, plus specialist knowledge of computational fluid dynamics (CFD). Thomas brought complimentary skills in fire risk management and fire risk assessment.
We set out to build a business that offered Fire Safety Engineering and Fire Risk Management services. We felt that it was important that we understand how buildings are operated, maintained, and managed throughout their life cycle, if we are to design better buildings in the first place.
We felt all fire engineers should at least experience fire risk assessments to ensure they appreciate what can happen post completion or years after. We could also see that fire risk assessors need to understand design first.
When the conclusions to the tragic Rose Park care home fire inquiry arrived the prosecutor concluded that “The death’s of 14 elderly residents may have been prevented if there were an adequate system of fire safety management”.
Ben Bradford began to wonder what that looked like in reality, and considering the findings of other tragic events.
2011 - Certification
The Regulatory Reform (fire safety) Order 2005 was signed into law on 7 June 2005, and its provisions came into force on 1 October 2006. The intention was that it should not place undue regulatory burdens on property owners, operators and businesses. However it became clear that to produce a fire risk assessment that is both suitable and sufficient, competent fire risk assessors were required.
BB7 was the first company in the UK to demonstrate and obtain UKAS accredited Quality Assurance Certification of Companies Offering Life Safety Fire Risk Assessment Services. We participated in the pilot schemes for FRACS and BAFE SP205 and devised a methodology and scoring mechanism for the audit of fire risk assessments which is now within a British Standard.
Over the next few years we gained an enviable reputation for Strategic Fire Risk Management.
2012 - First acquisition
BB7 acquired the goodwill of Impact Fire Limited, and this brought specialist sector knowledge of places of detention and secure environments.
We drafted a business case that was approved with BSI and we worked together to draft a publicly available specification. Our small team were given training in standards writing, and management systems and we formed a panel, made up of the good and the great of fire safety. We formed a steering group and a wider stakeholder group. We also commenced a number of PAS 7 pilot projects and learned a whole load of lessons about fire risk management in different sectors.
We spent a lot of time speaking to fire safety managers, and began to understand their challenges and frustrations.
2013 - Thought leadership
Ben wrote and published PAS 7: 2013 Fire Risk Management System Specification on behalf of British Standards Institution, which went on to become BS 9997: 2019 and enable third party UKAS accredited certification of fire risk management systems.
This standard set out base requirements for a fire risk management system that comprehensively addressed every Article of the RRFSO. It set out a system that could then be audited and indeed certificated. It defined the term “Fire Risk Management Strategy” and the concept of “Strategic fire risk management”.
Ben co-authored a publication with lawyer, Jacob Rickett on behalf of the Fire Industry Association (FIA) entitled ‘Legal Responsibilities of Fire Risk Assessors’.
2014 - Second acquisition
In October 2014, BB7 acquired the goodwill of Beacon Fire and MK Fire Training Limited.
In this year we were undertaking fire risk management audits for clients in many different sectors and on occasions helped our clients write fire risk management policy, strategy and procedure. We learnt a lot about what good looked like. We learnt a lot about where things fall down. We learnt that there were some good things being done in some sectors that could be cross pollinated over to other sectors and add value.
In this year we lead the drafting of a standard scope of services for fire risk assessors which was published by the Fire Industry Association (FIA) and originally based on a BB7 proposal document.
2015 - Heading north
BB7 opened its first office in the North West, enabling us to begin serving the North of England. We secured one of the UK’s largest national fire risk assessment contracts which saw us delivering up to 800 suitable and sufficient fire risk assessments per month.
Delivering large scale fire risk assessment programmes for national multi-site portfolio’s comes with challenges, and there were plenty of lessons learnt.
2016 - Expansion in Scotland & recognition
On 13th May 2016 Ben was awarded the highest honour given to any member of the Association and was inaugurated at the House of Lords, London, as the 70th President of the Chartered Association of Building Engineers 2016/2017. In the same year he ran the London Marathon to raise money for Engineers without Borders and Action against Hunger.
Chartered Engineer Dominic Way opened the Glasgow Office, enabling the company to provide clients with strong coverage across the United Kingdom.
UKAS invited organisations to apply for the pilot programme for the accreditation of certification bodies under ISO 17021-1 for the assessment of fire risk management systems to PAS 7: 2013. On satisfactory completion of assessment by UKAS the applicants were accredited to ISO 17021-1 for the assessment of fire risk management systems to PAS 7: 2013. One of those organisations was MMRA, part of Mott Macdonald. The panel for BS 9999: 2017 was also in full swing during this year and Ben contributed to Section 4 of this standard.
2017 - Expansion in Ireland
Chartered Engineer William Ward opened the Dublin office, in the Republic of Ireland. William brought with him international experience and sector experience in transportation hubs.
BB7 acquired Rushbrook Consultants in Scotland, a firm with a strong history and associated with Frank Rushbrook, a leading figure in the Scottish fire service and a pioneer in the fire engineering profession.In August 2017, the world’s first Certificated Fire Risk Management System was awarded via a UKAS accredited Third Party Certification Body, enabling multi-site organisations to manage and mitigate risk more strategically.
2018 - Third acquisition
BB7 acquired Rushbrook Consultants in Scotland, a firm with a strong history and associated with Frank Rushbrook, a leading figure in the Scottish fire service and a pioneer in the fire engineering profession.
2019 - Expansion in Northern Ireland and larger acquisition
In 2019, BB7 received backing from BGF. BGF is the UK & Ireland’s most active and dynamic investor of equity capital in growth economy companies, backing entrepreneurs and innovators.
In addition to this Chartered Engineer Ray Quinn opened our Belfast office and BB7 acquired Omega Fire Engineering, strengthening our operations in Leeds and Manchester. With a strong reputation in the North of England, Omega Fire added scale and strength to the organisation, especially in the provision of Fire Safety Assurance Services at RIBA stage 4/5, and further strengthening our Fire and Smoke Modelling team in the South.
2020 - Rising to the challenge
The COVID 19 pandemic hit. BB7 continued to make key hires, growing to over 100 employees, and rebranded to re-enforce the 7 guiding principles on which the company was founded – principles that describe what we want to embody and the unique character, spirit and identity that is BB7.
In November, BB7 acquired Goldsmith Engineering, strengthening our operations in Dublin and Belfast. This acquisition brought Luke Goldsmith as our Managing Director for Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Luke’s drive, commitment and enthusiasm for the profession is now helping us continue our expansion throughout Ireland and bringing international links.
2021 - Working in Covid times
Covid brought unprecedented times. BB7 responded quickly and the whole workforce worked remotely. The People and Culture team worked tirelessly to ensure our BB7 culture remained strong and we pulled together to continue business as normal.
BB7 will continue to provide unparalleled service to clients throughout the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. In addition, with projects in the Middle East, Africa and the Caribbean, our aim is to further expand our international portfolio, making sure that we are the strategic fire and security risk management partner of choice to councils, architects, and design teams around the world.
2022 - Strengthening the north
The strategic decision to bring together our Manchester and Leeds offices as Team North, led by Regional Director John Rigby, further enhances the expertise across the offices.
2023 - The future
Backed by the most active growth capital investor in the world, we will continue to grow (without compromising our unique culture) and by adding value to our people and our clients. We will build out the depth and breadth of skills and capabilities within the company.
BB7 have appointed Katie Beck as Chairwoman, working closely with Ben and the board to steer the company on our journey of growth.
We will remain independent, remain BB7, and internationalise when the time is right.