MPs hear advice on post-Covid safety from experts Lord Combustion Services

Stuart Smith Md Lord Combustion Services
Stuart Smith, Lord Combustion Services MD

A cross-party group of MPs was told about the risks to the public from lapses in building safety following the Covid-19 pandemic during a briefing by leading Black Country commercial heating specialists Lord Combustion Services.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Black Country (APPG-BC), was established to recognise and address the economic barriers the region faces and brings together the region’s MPs with businesses to deepen understanding and awareness of issues the business community faces. 

At its recent meeting, MPs from across the political spectrum heard how facilities which were underused or remained dormant during lockdown may have neglected key maintenance regimes and checks on heating, water and ventilation to save costs during the pandemic.

Stuart Smith, Managing Director of Lord Combustion Services, which is based in Dudley Road East, Oldbury, was invited to speak as part of an awareness push being run with the Black Country Chamber of Commerce to warn businesses and facilities managers of the dangers of cutting back on spending on heating, hot water and ventilation maintenance as owners respond to homeworking, closures and mothballing.

After seeing a rise in cases where operators have put buildings at risk, Lord Combustion Services is warning that maintenance and safety standards still apply and should remain a priority for building operators, even though many sites remain unoccupied or are operating with significantly reduced capacity while staff are at home.

Stuart Smith welcomed the opportunity to brief MPs on the issues. He said: “We are seeing businesses brought back to life across the West Midlands but also some worrying signs that owners and managers have not switched on to the impact of months of stagnation.

“It was beneficial to draw the attention of the APPG-BC group of MPs to this issue. Facilities managers must ensure safety inspections are carried out to prevent the risk of legionella spreading in building water systems, increasing the risk of occupants contracting Legionnaires’ disease when the site reopens.

“During a recent visit to a commercial building, we raised concerns with the owner around legionella, which multiplies in stagnant water. When usage drops, pipes and tanks can become bacterial breeding grounds. Immediate steps were recommended and water quality regimes were developed.

“Through the Chamber we are sharing some practical tips for site owners, such as treating your heating, hot water and ventilation installations like cars by making sure they are safe and serviced and run as efficiently as possible. We also recommend owners use the downtime to replace legacy systems to have efficient set-ups when occupancy levels go up again.”

Neil Anderson, Director of External Affairs for Black Country Chamber of Commerce, welcomed Mr Smith’s participation in the session. He said: “The Chamber is currently running its biggest ever campaign, Black Country 2.0 and issues such as this are exactly the issues which the campaign is designed to highlight as the business community gradually begins the process of returning to workplaces.

“As Secretariat of the APPG, we appreciated having Lord Combustion Services come on board to speak about these issues as businesses and the need to ensure the maintenance of business facilities remains priority. As a platinum member of the Chamber, we appreciate Lord’s involvement in drawing attention to issues which they see through their work.”

With 45 staff operating across the West Midlands, Lord Combustion Services serve 1000 customers ranging from landmark buildings such as Warwickshire County Cricket Club’s Edgbaston cricket ground, through to NHS sites, schools and other public buildings.

Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and the phases of lockdown restrictions, the company reported a successful 2020 having ensured client sites met all heating and safety requirements. Lord also maintained commercial hot water systems, which proved important for handwashing facilities used in restricting the spread of COVID-19.

Since it was formed in 1982, Lord Combustion Services has progressed from being a mechanical contractor specialising in service and commissioning of gas and oil-fired equipment to supporting customers across all aspects of mechanical and electrical building services.

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For more information on the APPG-BC, visit:

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