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Colin Todd recognised for his fire expertise as he receives an MBE
  • Jan 17, 2022
  • Latest News

The latter part of 2021 brought about notable recognition for one of the Register’s longstanding experts, Colin Todd, an expert in fire safety, fire risk assessment and fire safety legislation.  

In October, he was awarded the prestigious Margaret Law Award by The Society of Fire Protection Engineers, an international body representing fire engineers across the world.  This award is named in honour of the outstanding achievements of Margaret Law, a pioneer in the fields of fire safety science and fire protection engineering.  

The award is bestowed annually on an individual who has pioneered advancements associated with the engineering fire safety of the built environment.  This reflects Colin’s 46 years in the field of fire safety, during which he has been responsible for advancement of fire safety codes and standards, including new concepts to enhance the fire safety of disabled people.

This award is endowed by Arup Americas resulting in an honorarium, which Colin is donating to a project, which he is currently undertaking in his own time, unpaid, on development of a novel concept that he has developed for identifying the presence of disabled people in blocks of flats, so that they can be rescued by the fire and rescue service in the event of fire.  The cost of developing software by specialists, Call Systems Technology, and the installation of two trial systems, is also being funded by Scottish Government, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, the Fire Industry Association, British Approvals for Fire Equipment, the Fire Service Research and Training Trust and Aico Ltd.  

In November, he received an MBE from Princess Anne at Windsor Castle, which reflected his particular endeavours in relation to domestic fire safety, including fire safety for vulnerable people.  His receipt of the award had been delayed as a result of COVID, following the award in the 2019 New Year’s Honours List.  

Also, in November, he was elected as a Fellow of the Institute of Fire Safety Managers, adding to his existing Fellowship of the Institution of Fire Engineers, the Institute of Physics, the Institution of Engineering and Technology and the Chartered Association of Building Engineers.  

After graduating in Physics in 1974, Colin was one of the four students, who undertook the first ever higher education in fire safety engineering in the UK, comprising a Master’s degree at Edinburgh University.  Inspired by the University’s Professor of Fire Engineering, David Rasbash, throughout his 46 year career, he has devoted much of his time to professional body work, particularly in relation to the establishment of fire safety engineering as a legitimate, specialist branch of engineering, of equivalent status to the traditional engineering professions, such as electrical engineering and mechanical engineering.  

In this connection, he was instrumental in achieving licensed body status for the Institution of Fire Engineers by the Engineering Council, so that fire safety engineers can now be registered as Engineering Technicians, Incorporated Engineers and Chartered Engineers.  Colin, himself, is a Chartered Engineer, a Chartered Building Engineer and a Chartered Physicist.  

In addition to running his consulting practice, C.S. Todd and Associates, which he established in 1982, Colin also devotes considerable amounts of time to work on professional body and trade association committees and working groups, and technical committees of the British Standards Institution.  In 2014, he was awarded a Distinguished Service Certificate by BSI for valuable contributions to the development of British, European and International standards.

Under his leadership, the well-established culture of the practice is to devote resources and time voluntarily and without commercial gain to contribute to the fire safety profession and any bodies that would benefit from the assistance and expertise of the C.S. Todd and Associates’ consultancy team.

For several years running, Colin was voted by his peers as one of the most influential people in fire safety, having been voted as number one in the top ten influential people in 2017.  Those nominating Colin for this award referred to his work on standards and expert witness work, with accolades that described him as the “most knowledgeable, approachable and, most importantly, jargon-free specialist”, with whom the nominator had ever worked, while another nominator noted that Colin’s “knowledge spans every corner of fire safety regulation and has undoubtedly improved the safety of the British workplace”.  

Following the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017, a great deal of Colin’s time has been taken up with work on Government and other committees, both in England and Scotland, making a major contribution to the efforts of the fire safety sector and Government to ensure that such a tragedy never occurs again.  His ideas in this respect resulted in changes to the measures required under building regulations in Scotland, some of which have been subsequently adopted by the relevant Government departments in England.

Within the legal and fire safety professions, Colin is well-known for his work as an expert witness, having produced his first expert witness report for a civil case in the pre-Woolf era of 1988.  Since then he has prepared expert reports for over 120 cases involving prosecution, determinations by the Secretary of State or appeals against Notices, many of these in the last 15 years, following the reform of fire safety legislation in 2006.  

Many of the cases with which Colin has been involved are the highest profile in modern fire safety history, including two cases, which remain as having attracted the highest fines or sentences in the history of fire safety legislation.  Following a fire at a care home in Lanarkshire in 2004, which resulted in the largest number of fatalities (14) between the King’s Cross fire in 1987 and the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017, Colin was a Crown expert witness in the Fatal Accident Inquiry into the deaths.  The Sheriff Principal commended Colin’s recommendations prepared for the Inquiry to Scottish Ministers, which led to changes in the building regulations and certain enforcement issues in Scotland, as well as changes to the British Standard on fire alarm systems.  

Colin is currently instructed as an expert witness in the Grenfell Tower Public Inquiry.