Dan Peters 18 December 2017

Review highlights fire safety failings

Scores of buildings do not have up-to-date arrangements for fire safety, an independent review has found.

An interim report by Dame Judith Hackitt, published today after the Grenfell Tower fire earlier this year, highlighted the fact that existing buildings do not need to be brought up to the latest fire safety standards ‘as long as during any refurbishment the existing provisions are not made worse’.

The report said the fact there was no statutory assumption of continuous improvement in fire safety over the life of a building ‘seriously limits the scope of the law to improve fire safety in pre-existing buildings’.

It added that some other countries have been more proactive in calling for the retrospective upgrade of existing buildings.

The report also said there was ‘widespread deviation from what is originally designed to what is actually built, without clear and consistent requirements to seek authorisation or review, or to document changes made’.

Councils have complained that over time building regulations have become increasingly technical and complex.

Communities secretary Sajid Javid described Dame Judith’s report as an ‘important milestone’.

A final report will be published in spring.

For more on this topic see our feature, 'Public sector leadership: what can be learned from Grenfell?'

Responding to the report, Lord Porter, Local Government Association (LGA) chairman, said: 'The Government needs to endorse the report’s findings without delay and work with councils and the industry to take the process of reform forward in the way Dame Judith has set out.

'This will obviously need to include rewriting the documents relating to the installation of cladding and insulation on external walls of buildings so they are easier to understand and comply with.'

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