The Fire Sector Federation has welcomed the publication of the Government’s Implementation Plan in response to Dame Judith Hackitt’s Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety. The Federation is heartened that the Government “agrees with the Review’s diagnosis and the principles behind its recommendations”. It also welcomes the announcement of a full review of Approved Document B to the Building Regulations and the release of further allied guidance impacting fire safety.
The FSF welcomes the Government’s recognition of the need for a step change in systems and behaviour “to radically improve culture and capability”. However, it believes this will take some time to achieve and require broad input from a range of stakeholders.
To be effectively delivered, the Federation believes this task must be tackled head on and speedily concluded as the official lessons from Grenfell Tower are learned. The FSF highlights the need for continued resource investment by Government to ensure appropriate outcomes and willingly offers the expertise of FSF members in support of this national priority.
Moves endorsed by the Implementation Plan
The Federation is pleased to note the Plan’s endorsement of:
*Placing people’s safety above all other interests in buildings
*Calling upon everyone engaged in the building safety process to accept their responsibilities and improve their competency, culture and behaviour
*Consulting on extending the scope beyond ten-storey residential buildings and the role of the duty holder
*Consulting on a tougher regulatory regime and creating the safety case mindset needed with a more explicit use of building inspectors
*Creation of a Joint Regulators Group and the review of ‘golden thread’ information
*A technical review of A, D, B and other guidance and consultation on the role of BRAC
*Developing a third party accreditation framework for building products where the FSF believes evidence already exists of better products and more effective product marking
*Helping all residents to gain information and engage in order to better protect themselves
*Assisting industry to address standards and new approaches to safety
While significant challenges exist in some areas, the FSF welcomes the opportunity to address them through the announced consultations. Examples of such challenges include:
*Considering how best to progress remediation in the private sector now that there’s clarity on the scale and costs in social housing to resolve the ACM problem
*Addressing how important roles like those undertaken by the temporary Expert Advisory Panel can be incorporated into the planned future building safety system
*Working inter-departmentally to ensure sufficient numbers of regulatory enforcers exist in groups such as Fire and Rescue Service fire safety inspectors, where limitations have been reported by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services
Strongest Government response
Welcoming the key elements of the Government’s Implementation Plan, FSF chairman Michael Harper stated: “The tragedy of Grenfell Tower demanded the strongest Government response and the Federation readily acknowledges the commitment and resources already made available to create and progress a Building Safety Programme and commission the Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety.”
Harper added: “In urging the Government to continue its commitment to improve fire safety, the Federation confirms that it will positively contribute through the consultation process and any other route by offering whatever technical and moral support it can to advance public fire safety.”