Home News CIC announces support for sprinkler installations in buildings above 11 metres

CIC announces support for sprinkler installations in buildings above 11 metres

by Brian Sims

The Construction Industry Council, which is the representative forum for professional bodies, research organisations and specialist business associations in the construction industry, has released a statement referencing the use of sprinklers that will form the basis of its policy on this issue going forward. 

The statement reads: “The built environment professions working together as members of the Construction Industry Council believe further action is required to improve the fire safety of buildings in the UK. Lives, stock and property are saved by the use of automatic fire suppression systems (AFSS), which include sprinklers. At present, England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland differ in their requirements for sprinklers, yet the incidence and science of fire knows no political or geographical boundaries.”

It continues: “Harmonising the Building Regulations across the nations of the UK regarding the installation of sprinklers would provide clarity to the industry and help protect the public. We support the installation of sprinklers in all new and converted residential buildings, hotels, hospitals, student accommodation, schools and care home buildings of 11 metres or above in height and retrofit installation to existing buildings when refurbishment occurs where a building is subject to ‘material alterations’. We also support the installation of AFSS including sprinklers below this height on a case-by-case basis of risk assessment.”

In conclusion, the statement reads: “Each of the professional bodies in the Construction Industry Council with members engaged in the commissioning, procurement, planning, design, engineering, risk assessment, regulation and control, construction, refurbishment and management of any of the building types mentioned in the paragraph above will actively bring forward guidance to their own professionals in line with this statement in the absence of Government legislation.”

Modernise regulatory regimes

The Queen’s Speech on Monday 14 October raised a number of post-Grenfell Tower issues in Parliament including building safety standards legislation. Her Majesty declared: “My ministers will… bring forward laws to implement new building safety standards.”

Within the official document released alongside, it’s stated that the purpose of this legislation will be to “put in place new and modernised regulatory regimes for building safety and construction products, ensuring residents have a stronger voice in the system.” The main benefits of this would be “learning the lessons from the Grenfell Tower fire and bringing about a fundamental change in the ​regulatory​ framework ​for high-rise residential buildings (HRRBs) and the industry culture​ to ensure accountability and responsibility” and “making ​sure that residents are safe in their own homes.”

The document continues to note the main elements of the legislation would “take forward the recommendations from Dame Judith Hackitt’s independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety”. It points out that the legislation will provide clearer accountability for those responsible for the safety of HRRBs throughout the entire life-cycle of the building (design, construction and occupation) “with clear competence requirements to ensure that high standards are upheld.”

Continuing this, it adds the legislation will strengthen “enforcement and sanctions to deter non-compliance with the new regime in order to hold the right people to account when mistakes are made and ensure they’re not repeated.”

Stephen Adams, CEO at BAFE, reacted by stating: “The BAFE Fire Safety Register fully supports the Government’s intention to bring these laws into effect and expects UKAS-accredited third party certification to be documented as a robust method of confirming a service provider’s competence, most notably with fire risk assessment providers. However, BAFE would like to encourage all appropriate bodies to continue the deliberation that these laws should not exclusively focus on HRRBs, but likewise this should not further delay any introduction of legislation.”

Nick Coombe MBE, building safety programme lead for the National Fire Chiefs Council, commented: “People in the construction industry need to know they’re going to get caught, and if they do get caught that the punishment is severe and they will not do it again… Change is not going to happen unless there’s strong legislation and strong enforcement… The industry is failing, so our legislation, our new regulator, needs to have oversight of the whole industry, not just tower blocks.”

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