The fire safety world is full of clubs, associations and federations. None of them has ever asked me to join which is a shame since that means I can't do a Groucho on them. But it does at least tell me that I'm probably on the right track.
I did manage to slip through the net towards the end of 2017 and get a speaking spot at the FIRE Congress, "Out of the flames: a fire safe future after the tragedy of Grenfell Tower". Many of the fire clubs were present: National Fire Chief's Council, Fire Sector Federation, Fire Protection Association, LFB, FBU and others. Although the event was intended to look at the lessons of Grenfell and plan a fire safe future for all, there weren't any Grenfell residents there, quite possibly because ticket prices started at just over £200 for the day. What was the main solution all these clubs came up with? You probably guessed it - to set up a new Council/Association/Academy (I forget precisely which), that would of course mean yet another club to join; new expenses to claim and dinners to attend.
There is an unoffical club of clubs within the fire sector, and most of its members were present that day, for example Dave Sibert then of the FBU (before he got sacked for colluding with the flame retardant industry) and another great lover of flame retardants, Paul Fuller, who had to leave early because he had another charity dinner to attend. I'd been invited to dinner the night before by the congress organiser. Sibert and Fuller were there too (although they went through convolutions to make sure they weren't sitting next to me) but while they could wave their union paid for credit cards at the waiter, I had to pay for my own dinner. Staying Groucho clearly costs.
And so the same names crop up again and again in these fire clubs. Why is that a problem? Well, they do of course all know each other; go to the same conferences; stay at the same hotels; buy each other drinks, etc. Bottom line? Five years ago, the government proved that the Furniture Regulations are not fit for purpose; that they aren't fire-safe. Yet not one of these club members has done a single thing about that, even though they're meant to be dedicated to fire safety. Not a single one of them has ever denied it's true, either.