William Eichler 12 April 2018

Whitehall to consult on banning fire performance ‘desktop studies’

Whitehall to consult on banning fire performance ‘desktop studies’  image

The Government yesterday launched a consultation into the use of ‘desktop studies’ to assess the fire performance of external cladding systems.

The consultation will ask for views on whether ‘desktop studies’, that is, assessments carried out without tests, are the most effective way of classifying the fire performance of construction products and systems.

The use of these studies is being considered as part of Dame Judith Hackitt’s review into Building Regulations and Fire Safety established by the Government following the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy.

The fire in the North Kensington tower block, which killed 71 people last June, is thought to have spread rapidly due to the building’s exterior cladding.

Dame Hackitt’s interim report, published last year, recommended the Government should ‘significantly restrict’ the use of ‘desktop studies’.

‘The widespread use of desktop studies to assess equivalence of products and systems is not properly managed or controlled in terms of both the circumstances in which they can be used and the qualifications and experience of those undertaking them,’ she wrote.

‘Test results, desktop studies, and the details of those who produce them, are not made public,’ she added.

‘The Government should significantly restrict the use of desktop studies to approve changes to cladding and other systems to ensure that they are only used where appropriate and with sufficient, relevant test evidence,’ Dame Hackitt recommended.

‘Those undertaking desktop studies must be able to demonstrate suitable competence. The industry should ensure that their use of desktop studies is responsible and in line with this aim.’

Announcing the consultation, housing secretary, Sajid Javid said: ‘We have listened carefully to Dame Judith Hackitt and we are taking action to strengthen building regulations guidance, which could mean that the use of “desktop studies” are either significantly restricted or banned altogether.

‘This demonstrates the tough measures we are prepared to take to make sure that cladding tests are as robust as possible and people are safe in their homes.’

Responding to the announcement of a consultation, Local Government Association (LGA) chairman, Lord Porter, said: 'The LGA explained to the Government several months ago that Approved Document B needed revising in order to provide clarity for building owners seeking to replace flammable cladding, so we are pleased to see this consultation emerge.

'Currently, if no fire test data exists for a particular cladding system, a desktop study can be submitted. We have consistently said that desktop studies cannot substitute for real-world tests of cladding systems – including in our evidence to the Hackitt Review.

'We urge the Government to hold firm against industry pressure that seeks to allow their continued use.'

SIGN UP
For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Education, Health and Care (EHC) Co-ordinators

Buckinghamshire Council
£30,874 - £37,188 per annum
Interested in a career as an EHC Coordinator? Come along to our drop-in event to meet members of the SEND team and find out more about the role! England, Buckinghamshire, Aylesbury
Recuriter: Buckinghamshire Council

Citizen & Consumer Protection Team Manager - Trading Standards

Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council
£40,760 - £45,591 per annum
We have an exciting opportunity to recruit to the position of Citizen & Consumer Protection Team Manager... Sandwell, West Midlands
Recuriter: Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council

Health & Wellbeing Board Project Officer

Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council
£34,788 - £39,782 per annum
The role will also involve assisting in the development of the Health and Wellbeing Strategy for Sandwell and ensuring that... Sandwell, West Midlands
Recuriter: Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council

Belonging Support Worker

Telford & Wrekin Council
£19,554 - £21,166 per annum pro rata
The role of Belonging Support Worker is a new and exciting position within the team. Telford, Shropshire
Recuriter: Telford & Wrekin Council

Head of Shared Services

EK Services
£63,696 per annum, with opportunity for progression to £72,612 and £3000 cash for car allowance
As Head of Shared Services, you’ll oversee our ICT and HR provision Thanet, Kent
Recuriter: EK Services

Local Government News

Latest issue - Local Goverrnemnt News

This issue of Local Government News explores how councils can tackle modern slavery and trafficking in their supply chains, finds out more about Cambridge's first cohousing scheme and the launch of a new project to build a shared service pattern library for local government.

This issue also contains a special focus on children's services and how councils are protecting children following local safeguarding children boards being abolished.

Register for your free magazine