Grenfell Tower Update

Speaking at FIREX 2018, which ran alongside Safety & Health Expo, Paul Fuller said that while the Federation supports almost all recommendations made in Dame Judith Hackitt’s recent report and “welcomes the much-needed cultural change in the regulatory environment”, it is still “disappointed that even despite that there is still no immediate review of Approved Document B”.

“We have seen similar tragedies in the past and all of them have resulted in stronger and more prescriptive regulations to ensure they cannot happen again,” said Fuller.

“Something that almost every single person who has appeared in the media over the last 12 months has said is ‘this is something we must never allow this to happen again’. How are we to never allow this to happen again if we do not do something?”

Mr Fuller said the Federation has been campaigning for many years about the UK’s approach to fire safety and in the weeks before the Grenfell Tower last year had been preparing to launch a publicity campaign about the need to reform Approved Document B, which was shelved in the aftermath of the fire.

He also talked about how fire safety had been “naturally eroded” in the years before the tragedy.

“The political and sector mood music of the day was best reflected by the-then home secretary in 2016 and I will repeat exactly what she said – ‘the number of fires in England has been reduced by nearly two thirds, fire deaths have fallen by half and we have seen a similar reductions in the number of non-fatal casualties.

There are approaching 200,000 fewer false alarms each year and malicious incidents have fallen by 90%. Buildings are safer, families and communities are more secure’.”

Complacency

Mr Fuller said pre-Grenfell there was a “genuine belief that fire was under control and there were bigger fish to fry and more important things to deal with”.

 

“As a result of that, some complacency crept in and there was a lack of thought about the impact of issues around fire safety and a weakening of regulation and enforcement by fire issues, driven by the need for deregulation by successive governments over a long number of years,” added Mr Fuller.

“That resulted in a light touch and the impact of fire safety was seldom given enough thought.”

But Mr Fuller talked about previous warnings, particularly in the aftermath of the Lakanal House fire in 2009, when six people were killed and 20 were injured.

 

“It too had some basis on external spread of fire. The coroner wrote a whole series of letters, but I will pick out four of the key things she said,” he told delegates at the event.

 

“Firstly, she suggested the Government carry out a review of Approved Document B in order to ensure that it provides clear guidance to Regulation B4 of the building regulations, with particular regard to the spread of fire over the external envelope of the building.

“The other thing she said was that the department should encourage providers of housing in high-rise residential buildings to consider the retro-fitting of sprinkler systems.”

 

Mr Fuller added building regulations had not been reviewed in this country for 12 years when the Grenfell Tower tragedy occurred.

 

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Keep up to date with the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety

On Monday 18 December, Dame Judith Hackitt published her interim report on the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety.  This review was established following the tragic events at Grenfell Tower and it aims to make recommendations that will ensure there is a sufficiently robust regulatory system for the future and provide further assurance to residents that the buildings they live in are safe and will remain so.

The interim report, which marks the end of the first phase, focusses on the findings to date and the direction of travel for the final report.  Its key findings indicate that the current regulatory system for ensuring fire safety in high-rise and complex buildings is not fit for purpose.  Several reasons for this are highlighted in the report, including that compliance, enforcement and sanctions processes are too weak.

The Independent Review will now move to the second phase of its work, the direction of travel of which is included in the interim report. In particular, the final report will cover six broad areas; ‘regulation and guidance’, ‘roles and responsibilities’, ‘competence, process, compliance and enforcement’, ‘residents’ voice and raising concerns’ and ‘quality assurance and products’. It is clear that this call to action by Dame Judith, which will require a universal shift in culture, will impact greatly on the FM sector.

Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety: interim report

Click on the link below for the interim report which was commissioned by government following the Grenfell Tower fire to make recommendations on the future regulatory system.

The Communities and Local Government Committee (CLG) questions Dame Judith Hackitt on the Interim Report of Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety.

Building regulations fit for purpose?

Dame Judith Hackitt, Chair of the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety, is to appear before the CLG Committee to update MPs on the work of the Review set up following the Grenfell Tower fire.

LGA responds to Hackitt Review interim report into building regulations and fire safety

“Today’s interim report reinforces our warnings about the complexity and confusion in the current system of ensuring buildings are safe, so tragically exposed by the Grenfell Tower fire.