Fiona Twycross, the Deputy London Mayor for Fire and Resilience, and the London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton are calling on the Government to tighten up Building Regulations in order to prioritise the need for sprinklers and address the shortage of skilled fire engineers.
Although the results of Dame Judith Hackitt’s Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety were published almost a year ago, there has been no clarity from the Government on the next steps. Now, the Deputy Mayor and the head of the London Fire Brigade are jointly calling on ministers to implement fundamental changes to fire safety to prevent a tragedy like the Grenfell Tower fire happening ever again.
In a letter to the Communities Secretary, James Brokenshire, the Deputy Mayor and Commissioner call on the Government to:
*Ensure new fire safety regulations cover a wider range of buildings than is currently proposed
*Make the installation of sprinklers mandatory in new residential buildings and any building where vulnerable people may be at risk
*Address the shortage of skilled fire engineers, which is currently limiting essential preventative work
The letter emphasises the importance of fire safety engineers, who are vital in providing the expertise required to ensure buildings are safe from fire. The current shortage of skilled engineers means that it’s challenging to make the changes needed in building safety without urgent and targeted investment from the Government.
Decades of failure
Fiona Twycross commented: “London’s firefighters work tirelessly to keep us safe and we rightly praise them for their immense bravery, but we should also recognise the invaluable work they do every day to prevent fires. Many of the issues faced by firefighters reflect decades of failure to put fire safety – and therefore residents’ safety – at the heart of how all buildings are constructed and refurbished. This matters for all of us, but in particular for some of the most vulnerable members of our society.”
Twycross continued: “Where City Hall has the power to take action, the Mayor is leading the way in ensuring new buildings are safe via the London Plan, which requires that all new developments achieve the highest standards of fire safety at the earliest planning stages. Now, the Government must act with the same level of urgency and implement changes in regulation as well as provide the necessary resources to deliver preventative work.”
Dany Cotton stated: “Following Dame Judith Hackitt’s Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety, we now need the Government to act without further delay to ensure that we have robust legislation and regulation in place to make buildings safer. For too long, our fire safety advice on sprinklers has been ignored. Developers must be required to include sprinklers in building design and especially so in purpose-built residential blocks and homes where vulnerable people live.”
Cllr Darren Rodwell, London Councils’ Executive Member for Housing and Planning, added: “The top priority for London Boroughs is to ensure all residents are safe – and feel safe – in their homes. Following the fire at Grenfell Tower, London Boroughs put immense effort and resources into carrying out essential remedial works. While a lot of safety improvements have been achieved, more change is needed at the national policy level. We cannot afford to lose momentum. The Government must listen and urgently address these continuing concerns.”