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The significance of fire doors to a building’s fire safety

The Grenfell Tower Inquiry (Phase 1) identified numerous failings including compromised escape routes and fire doors that did not, through damage and/or disrepair, act in the way that they should to prevent smoke and gases from spreading. As such, the Inquiry recommended (Recommendations 33.29 (a) and (b)) that the owner

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LGA responds to building safety measures coming into force

Responding to measures in the Building Safety Act coming into force today where many leaseholders will be legally protected from unfair bills to make their homes safe, Cllr Darren Rodwell, Local Government Association housing spokesperson, said: “The LGA has long argued that blameless leaseholders should not have to pay for

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Grenfell Inquiry: Grenfell driven by “agenda of deregulation”

The Fire Brigades Union lawyer for the inquiry has placed central importance on the “agenda of deregulation, privatisation and marketisation” as causing the disaster. Martin Seaward said that an agenda “which encouraged companies to behave recklessly towards building safety” was “actively and, regrettably, deliberately created by central government”. The comments

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Central register launched for building safety managers

A new central register and a certification scheme have been launched for building safety managers following the final report and proposals for Working Group 8 – part of the industry response group tasked with developing a new framework of competence for the new Building Safety Manager role (part of the

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Latest Issue

BDC 319 : Aug 2024

grenfell

srththdfghdfg

The significance of fire doors to a building’s fire safety

The Grenfell Tower Inquiry (Phase 1) identified numerous failings including compromised escape routes and fire doors that did not, through damage and/or disrepair, act in the way that they should to prevent smoke and gases from spreading. As such, the Inquiry recommended (Recommendations 33.29 (a) and (b)) that the owner and manager of every residential building containing separate dwellings carry out an urgent inspection of all fire doors to ensure compliance with current legislative standards and that regular (no less than every three months) checks be carried out to ensure all fire doors are fitted with an effective self-closing device which is in working order. The Inquiry also recommended (Recommendation 33.30) that all those who have responsibility for the condition of the entrance doors to individual flats in high-rise residential buildings (with unsafe cladding) be required by law to ensure these doors comply with current standards. As a direct result, Article 24 of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 introduces enhanced fire safety regulations. The Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 were published on 6 December 2022 and came into effect in England from 23 January 2023. The regulations introduced changes with regards to fire doors which have an impact for the Responsible Person. They require responsible persons in multi-occupied residential buildings which are classed as high-rise buildings, (defined in The Fire Safety (England) Regulations as a building at least 18 metres in height or at least seven storeys), and also those above 11 metres in height in an identical use of multi-occupation residencies where communal areas and escape routes exist, to provide new additional safety measures with regards to the periodic and ongoing inspection of fire resisting doorsets. Quarterly inspectionsIt is now a legal requirement in high-rise buildings and multi-occupied residential buildings more than 11 metres in height to undertake quarterly inspections of fire resisting doorsets (including their self-closing devices) in the common areas, as these doors are subject to considerable use and subsequent failings or damage. This includes (but is not limited to) cross-corridor fire doors, staircase enclosure fire doors, and fire doors of protected lobbies and higher risk rooms such as plant rooms, riser shafts, and storage areas. Annual inspectionsThe new Fire Safety Regulations also state that it is now a legal requirement to carry out annual checks of fire resisting entrance doorsets to apartments or flats on a ‘best endeavours’ basis, with a procedure identical to the above, identifying and recording findings and actioning any remedial works required to return the door to a compliant nature. Information for residentsThe Responsible Person must also now provide residents with information relating to the significance of fire doors to a building’s fire safety, highlighting the importance of not removing or disconnecting self-closing devices, keeping fire doors closed, and immediately reporting any faults or damage to doors. This needs to be documented to ensure all residents are provided with the directive to protect the entire building and its occupants. Residents must receive this information when they move into a multi-occupied residential building, and on an annual basis thereafter. As a fire risk assessor inspecting such premises, there exists a requirement to evidence these practices, to identify failings, and make suitable and sufficient recommendations in the remedy of such failings. Fire risk assessmentsThe Fire Safety Act 2021 also states that ‘the effect of the Act will be to require fire risk assessments of buildings with two or more sets of domestic premises to be updated to take account of doors, if they have not already done so.’ This is detailed in section 9 as affecting ‘all doors between the domestic premises and the common parts (e.g. entrance doors to individual flats which open to common parts).’ This means that the Responsible Person should regularly review the fire risk assessment of their building(s) to ensure compliance, particularly if there is reason to believe it is no longer valid, or if significant change in the matters to which it relates has taken place. If these measures have already been considered within the existing current fire risk assessment, it is not necessary to have another fire risk assessment carried out whilst it remains compliant with this directive. Fire door inspection surveysWhilst a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment typically involves a review of the condition of existing fire doorsets, it is unlikely that it will extensively cover all fire doors and frames so a fire door inspection survey may be required. At the FPA, our fire door inspectors conduct comprehensive, non-destructive fire door surveys and deliver detailed reports on the condition of the entire doorset. Find out more about the FPA’s fire door inspection survey service. Building, Design & Construction Magazine | The Choice of Industry Professionals 

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Hear from Dame Judith Hackitt at FIRE 2022 – Working together to drive change

Date: 18 October 2022 Location: St Helen’s, London and online Book now Speaker Dame Judith Hackitt, former Chair of the Health and Safety Executive, and author of Building a Safer Future, the independent review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety in High Rise Buildings conducted for UK Government in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy. Under a month to go until FIRE Conference 2022! The day’s highlights include a Ministerial Plenary; a journalist-led session reflecting on the Grenfell Tower Inquiry; a panel debate on sustainability in the fire sector; and workshops covering future fuels, the fire and rescue service reform, curtain wall fires, and professional indemnity insurance. We are delighted to be joined by Dame Judith Hackitt who will provide a conference wrap up of the day’s proceedings, interspersed with her personal thoughts on the fire safety sector and its progression since her critical report. Dame Judith will also reflect on her desire to ensure an appropriate rate of culture change within the construction and fire safety industries.“This is an opportunity for everyone involved in fire safety to think differently about how we design and maintain fire safety in buildings. We’re moving away from an era of compliance with prescriptive rules, and to a new regime that requires people to take responsibility and demonstrate safety both to the regulators and to the people who live in the buildings. That is a big shift in culture…a challenging one. And I very much look forward to the discussions that will take place in London on 18 October about how we are going to make that happen.” About Dame Judith Hackitt Dame Judith Hackitt is the former Chair of the Health and Safety Executive, and author of Building a Safer Future, the independent review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety in High Rise Buildings conducted for UK Government in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

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LGA responds to building safety measures coming into force

Responding to measures in the Building Safety Act coming into force today where many leaseholders will be legally protected from unfair bills to make their homes safe, Cllr Darren Rodwell, Local Government Association housing spokesperson, said: “The LGA has long argued that blameless leaseholders should not have to pay for fire safety defects resulting from 20 years of regulatory failure and industry malpractice. We are pleased the Government has listened, although we remain concerned that the measures announced today will be insufficient to protect all leaseholders who own the freeholds of their blocks. “Government is right to recognise that the regulatory system was inadequate and operating poorly before the Grenfell Tower fire. It now needs to take responsibility for that failure by ensuring social housing tenants have the same protection that it has offered homeowners. “If councils and housing associations are not protected from the cost of fixing dangerous cladding and other fire safety defects those costs will inevitably fall on rent-payers. The Government must also exempt social housing from the forthcoming levy.”

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The importance of cultural change within the industry – Marking the fifth anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire

On 14 June 2017, a fire started in the kitchen of a fourth floor flat in West London. Within minutes, the fire spread via the exterior of the building reaching all four sides of the 24-storey tower block and in two hours, most of the upper floors had been engulfed in fire. The fire which destroyed Grenfell Tower saw the loss of 72 lives and has been named as “one of the UK’s worst modern disasters.” Factors that played part in the disaster Grenfell Tower had a ‘stay put’ fire policy which assumes that fire compartmentation works in the event of a fire. Being an important element of passive fire protection, its purpose is to contain the fire to its area of origin for as long as possible meaning that effectively, the fire and rescue services can bring the fire under control, and residents can evacuate safely. Many of Grenfell’s residents followed this policy and stayed put only to become trapped by the fire that gained momentum around them; others ignored this policy and managed to escape to safety. It is quite incomprehensible just how many things went wrong during the early hours of that Wednesday morning. Fire safety engineer Dr Barbara Lane, in a report to the Grenfell Tower Inquiry, discovered that the fire started spreading vertically up the tower block, and “laterally along the cladding above and below the window lines (and) the panels between windows.” The fire reached the top floor of the east side at approximately 01:26, evidenced by mobile footage, and had spread to the north side by 01:42. There were many factors that played a part in the fast spread of fire, but in his report to the Inquiry, Professor Luke Bisby said that evidence “strongly supports” that the external cladding was the main cause. He said: “The ACM (aluminium composite material) product on Grenfell Tower incorporates a highly combustible polyethylene polymer filler which melts, drips, and flows at elevated temperature. The polyethylene filler material is expected to release large amounts of energy during combustion”. However, Bisby found that other factors may have contributed to this such as other flammable materials for example, a polyurethane polymer foam insulation board, whilst Lane identified combustible materials in the windows, exposed gas pipes and flat doors not meeting current fire resistance standards. An important factor: current practices in the industry In light of the fifth anniversary of Grenfell Tower, a day to remember the people who lost their lives and hold in thought all of the family members and survivors, it is important to reflect on the years that have passed and why a cultural change is needed. Dame Judith Hackitt has been the driving force behind the construction industry’s next steps in building a safer future. Current practices show that the industry, often, focusses on sales and profit; cheaper products and money saved; quantity of content rather than the quality of content, over the safety of a building and its residents. Until the industry wholeheartedly embraces change and separates itself from old practices, the risk of destructive fire is inevitable. The industry’s culture has been resisting change for decades, suggesting that most parties are reluctant to take the lead and admit that it needs to improve with immediate effect. It has taken the tragedy of Grenfell for the culture of the industry to come under hard scrutiny in what Hackitt explains as “lack of ownership and responsibility, the system is gamed, and corners are cut wherever possible.” The Building Safety Bill received royal assent on 28 April 2022, meaning that it is now an act of parliament (BSA). Although many of the requirements will not come into force for another 12-18 months, Hackitt senses the mood may have shifted. She said: “The construction industry is waking up to the reality that this is really going to happen. I am delighted to hear […] that more than 300 organisations have now signed up to the Building a Safer Future charter and a similar number to the Code for Construction Product Information (CCPI).” Why is cultural change important? Although five years on, there is still a long way to go in terms of embracing innovation and rebuilding the trust and confidence lost in the construction industry. Legislation will help to change behaviours and force people into doing the right thing, but it cannot create a cultural change alone. It needs leaders and professionals within the industry to stand up and be counted but ultimately, encourage other individuals to do the same. If the practices displayed in the Grenfell Tower Inquiry have shown anything, it is that there is no better time than now for all parties to start utilizing guidance provided from relevant sectors and begin changing the way they work. With the ongoing push for reform, it has never been more vital for individuals to have the correct training, experience, and knowledge in their sectors. One main problem highlighted was the lack of well-trained workers. Sir Martin Moore-Bick, chair of the Grenfell Inquiry, stated: “Four members of the first [firefighter] crews to have fought the blaze had 52 years of combined experience. However, they had not received any training on the risks posed by exterior cladding or the techniques to be deployed in fighting fires involving cladding, the report found.” This suggests that when it comes to fire safety, every party needs to be involved from architects, who design a building, to fire and rescue services who are the first point of call in the event of a fire. By employers becoming influencers in the development of their organisation, alongside workers wanting to do the right thing for a safer future, this will ensure competency and ultimately, help create safer living spaces for residents in high-rise buildings. For any cultural change, there must be someone willing to take the lead. The construction industry is guilty of waiting for regulations to come into force before taking any action, but it is not enough to wait for government

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London Fire Brigade responds to government fire reform announcements

• The Brigade welcomes the government’s commencement of the Fire Safety Act and warns building owners and managers it will use this new clarification of powers if safety is put at risk. • Almost five years on from the tragic Grenfell Tower fire, people need certainty about how to leave their building in the event of a fire. This is an urgent issue that the government needs to address to ensure everybody feels safe in their home. • The Brigade welcomes the publication of the White Paper setting out the government’s vision of the future direction of the fire and rescue sector. In response to government announcements last week about reform in the fire and rescue sector, London Fire Brigade says it will start using new enforcement powers and will continue to support further change to protect the communities it serves. The Brigade also calls for the building and design sectors to step up and take urgent action to remediate their buildings if there are serious fire safety failings. There are still more than 1,000 residential buildings with fire safety failings in London, and there still needs to be a culture change in the industry and we must ensure that new buildings of all types are built safely from the outset. Commencement of the Fire Safety Act 2021 London Fire Brigade is warning building owners and managers it will use new legislation to take enforcement action if they are putting residents’ lives at risk by not taking the fire safety of their buildings seriously. The provisions in the Fire Safety Act 2021 came into force this week, after receiving Royal Assent in April last year. The Act clarifies the extent of the duties and responsibilities of the responsible persons for residential buildings and fire and rescue services’ enforcement powers under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. The act allows enforcement where those duties are not being met, particularly where they were previously unclear on the exterior of buildings and flat front doors. Government has also published a risk-based prioritisation tool to assist building owners in the prioritisation of risks across their buildings. Following the commencement of the Act, London Fire Brigade Commissioner, Andy Roe, said: “The new legislation gives fire and rescue services much-needed clarity to take enforcement action against building owners and managers who are not meeting their responsibilities on external areas of buildings, such as cladding and balconies. “We have already warned London’s building owners and managers that this was coming and we will use these news powers if they aren’t meeting their legal responsibilities so we are again reiterating our calls that they need to take urgent action to fix their buildings if there are serious failings. “Now the provisions in the Fire Safety Act have come into force, we will be working with NFCC and government to look at how we can best move forward in a way that is consistent across the country and enables us to enforce as quickly as possible against those that continue to drag their feet. “We still need to see a culture change in the industry when it comes to fire safety in residential buildings. It is extremely concerning that the number of buildings with serious fire safety failings has been at more than 1,000 for almost a year. “We must never forget what has brought us to this day and that is the 72 people who died at the Grenfell Tower fire and all those affected. They remain in our thoughts.” Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans (PEEPs) consultation response Responding to the government’s response to the PEEPs consultation, Commissioner Roe, said: “It’s vitally important that people feel safe in their own homes and have certainty about how to leave their building in the event of a fire or other emergency. “PEEPs were a key recommendation from the Grenfell Tower Inquiry and we want to work with government, communities and other partners to make progress on evacuation plans. We will be responding to this consultation.” Fire reform White Paper Responding to the publication of the government’s Command Paper about reforming the fire and rescue sector, Commissioner Roe, said: “The Brigade is continuing to transform as an organisation to meet the changing needs of London’s communities and we welcome the publication of government’s reform plans, which set out its vision of fire and rescue services. “We will continue to work with the Mayor of London and colleagues in the Home Office, National Fire Chiefs Council, and the Fire Brigades Union to ensure that the government’s approach reflects the best interests of Londoners, firefighters and the sector as a whole.”

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More than 1,000 buildings unsafe half a decade after Grenfell: what does this mean for vulnerable residents?

As London’s residents continue to face fire safety risks, industry experts are looking at how the Internet of Things (IoT) can transform fire safety for those most at risk in our communities  The chief of London Fire Brigade (LFB) has warned that more than 1,000 residential buildings in the capital still have serious fire safety failings almost five years after Grenfell.   The LFB Commissioner, Andy Roe, welcomed new Government legislation based on recommendations from the Grenfell Tower Inquiry, but said more needs to be done to tackle dangerous structures and ensure residents know how to escape in the event of a fire.   The phase one report of the Grenfell inquiry recommended that the owner and manager of every residential high‑rise should be legally required to prepare personal emergency evacuation plans for all residents whose ability to self‑evacuate may be compromised. Additionally, Dame Judith Hackitt’s independent Building a Safer Future report recognised the need for provisions for disabled and potentially vulnerable people.  Cognitive and physical impairments are factors that can influence the ability to evacuate a property and, in the UK, over 14 million people have a disability. As COVID‑19 continues to cause a surgery backlog, six million people are on the waiting list for NHS hospital care, including more than 23,000 who have waited more than two years, leaving potentially millions more people vulnerable to fire safety risks.   “Fire safety for disabled residents is not a minority issue. Disabilities affect more than one in five people in the UK, and half of those who died in the Grenfell Tower Fire were disabled or children,” says Fazilet Hadi, Head of Policy at Disability Rights UK.  In multiple‑occupancy houses, terraced homes, and high‑rise buildings, a major fire does not just put a single household in danger but potentially hundreds of lives. Sakina Afrasehabi, who had severe arthritis and walked with a frame, died on the 18th floor in the Grenfell fire at the age of 65. She was unable to negotiate steps but was housed in the tower because it had a lift, which stopped working on the night of the fire. Afrasehabi’s family believe she would still be alive if the council landlord had made a personal‑emergency evacuation plan (PEEP).  “It is not necessarily the disability that makes us vulnerable. Being ignored and left and made to feel invisible is what makes us vulnerable,” adds Fazilet Hadi.  Whilst evacuation plans are critical in the event of tenants needing to leave the building, there are also new, intelligent ways to help cut fire risks for the estimated 43% of social housing residents who live with a long‑term disability.  Using technology to prevent fire risks managing fire safety risks for vulnerable social housing residents  Cutting‑edge technology that remotely monitors the home environment 24/7 has the potential to prevent life‑threatening events. FireAngel Connected is a purpose-built cloud solution for fire detection and prevention. Built on 15 years of the Internet of Things (IoT) expertise, FireAngel’s unique Predict™ technology, patented in application, can highlight trends and patterns of high-risk behaviour to pinpoint properties at risk, enabling social housing providers to arrange successful interventions to help prevent a fire.    “The technology developed by FireAngel can give us a much better understanding of risk in the community, helping us to identify vulnerable tenants and adapt our response accordingly to foster their needs,” comments Jason Avery, Assistant Director for Prevention and Protection, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Services.  Predict™ analyses real-time data to identify patterns of potential fire risk within properties – giving an instant risk level without a manual data trawl. This enables prioritised interventions and increased fire prevention measures to residents who need it most. The combination of IoT and AI technologies also provides an overview of buildings and their changing fire risks, allowing landlords to carry out maintenance checks or repairs at the point of need, ensuring costly problems are prevented and tenant safety is protected.    Ian Moore, CEO of the Fire Industry Association, says: “The IoT promises to transform the fire industry. When making informed decisions, data is everything. The more data we have, the more robust the decision can be. I will always support industry developments that help make people safer from fire risks”.  Building Design and Construction Magazine | The Home of Construction & Property News

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Councils urge MPs to prevent Building Safety Bill creating ‘two-tier’ safety system

The Local Government Association is urging MPs to back amendments to the Building Safety Bill – tabled by LGA Vice President Daisy Cooper MP – to protect the future residents of new buildings under 18 metres not covered by the scope of the Bill, The Building Safety Bill will establish a Building Safety Regulator (BSR) within the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to implement a new, more stringent, regulatory regime for higher-risk buildings. These are defined as residential buildings, care homes and hospitals over 18m. However, the Bill leaves residential buildings under 18 meters out of scope. This will create a two-tier system where buildings below 18 metres will face less rigorous safety regulations than buildings over 18 metres.  The current scope of Building Safety Bill would not have covered the Cube student residence in Bolton. In December 2019, the flammable cladding at the Cube rendered the only staircase untenable within half an hour and a resident was rescued from the top floor of the building moments before the flat from which she was rescued was destroyed by fire. This suggests that had the fire taken place later in the evening when more residents were asleep, it would probably have resulted in fatalities. In addition, we have already seen serious fires in Barking and Worcester Park, among others, which have demonstrated the very real danger that the failings of modern construction pose to residents in buildings under 18m. Cllr David Renard, housing spokesperson at the Local Government Association, said: “The Building Safety Bill, along with the Fire Safety Act, are important pieces of legislation will strengthen the building safety system in the UK. “The LGA has long-warned about the need for building safety reforms to avoid creating a two-tier building safety system which leaves buildings under 18 metres vulnerable and unprotected. The height of a building does not define the risk to its safety, as has been proven by a number of dangerous and potentially fatal fires in buildings below 18 metres. “We urge MPs to back these amendments to ensure the extension of the Bill’s protection to those buildings under 18m that require it on the basis of risk is hardwired into the legislation.”

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Government To Make Developers Pay For Costs Of Cladding Crisis In New Measures Announced

Experts Say Announcement Could Mean More False Hope For Leaseholders Developers have been given an early March deadline to create a fully funded plan of action to help the cladding crisis, with further measures to be put in place by the Government. The announcement from Michael Gove MP at the House of Commons on the afternoon of Monday 10th of January said he is giving developers the chance to ‘do the right thing’ or he would ‘impose in law’ ways to make them pay for the cladding crisis. So far residents in blocks 11-18m high haven’t been eligible for government support to remove unsafe cladding, instead being offered loans to shoulder the often eye-watering cost – but this scheme is now scrapped, along with further measures to ease the standstill for leaseholders affected by surveys, insurers and market uncertainty as a result of the crisis. Residential property experts at Irwin Mitchell say the announcement shows the Government has shut the door on providing its own funding to help leaseholders, instead relying on developers to pay for the cladding crisis. Jeremy Raj, national head of Residential Property at Irwin Mitchell said: “The sentiments and ambition of Mr Gove’s statement today were praiseworthy and long overdue. The realities of his proposals are, however, as yet of questionable efficacy and breadth. “The truth is that the fifth anniversary of Building Safety reaching its current level of crisis for leaseholders in taller blocks of flats in particular is fast approaching. The acknowledgement today that reaction to date has been slow and ineffective will be cold comfort, particularly in relation to those with non-cladding issues. Government must indeed accept when its own performance has not been acceptable and ensure a rapid improvement. “The cladding on Grenfell had nothing to do with current or historic developers of new build homes, having been retro-fitted many years after the original build, using materials that were clearly dangerous that seem to have been ignored or waved through by the regulatory authorities. “The idea that responsibility for resolving the cladding scandal – which has now widened to become a general building safety scandal – should be laid solely at the doors of developers asked to voluntarily cough up more cash, is likely to lead only to further delay and heartbreak for leaseholders caught in dangerous or un-sellable properties. “Many developers will be puzzled as to how and to what extent they can justify such expenditure on a ‘voluntary’ basis in the context of their obligations to shareholders, and a lack of direct responsibility, particularly given clear evidence of contributory negligence by others. “As Irwin Mitchell have been saying from the outset, fixing dangerous buildings (of whatever height) should be dealt with as a priority using up-front Government money, with clawback provisions activated as soon as the extent and identity of all liable parties has been established under due legal process.” Large housebuilding developers are already facing the Residential Property Developer Tax, which targets companies with annual profits of over £25m with a 4% tax to go towards cladding. Legal experts point out that laying the blame at one person’s door doesn’t help the situation for affected leaseholders – or help with the long-term housing crisis the UK is currently facing. Jeremy continued: “In the context of an acute national shortage of safe, suitable and environmentally sound housing stock, it will not help to demonise and threaten all developers if they can clearly see that the manufacturers and suppliers of those dangerous materials, the poorly resourced regulators and the industry as a whole, seem to be being let off the hook. “It now seems clear that the Treasury has firmly shut the door to further funds being made available and that, along with Planning reform, a full upgrade and proper funding of Building Control remains a distant hope for the future. “Nobody wants the leaseholders caught up in the post-Grenfell nightmare to continue to suffer, and it is right that they should be absolved of financial responsibility for making their buildings safe. “However, significant issues relating to building safety remain in addition to the cladding problems and many of our clients do not appear to be helped by today’s announcement in resolving the problems with the homes they bought in good faith, expecting them to be safe to live in and easy to sell on.”

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Grenfell Inquiry: Grenfell driven by “agenda of deregulation”

The Fire Brigades Union lawyer for the inquiry has placed central importance on the “agenda of deregulation, privatisation and marketisation” as causing the disaster. Martin Seaward said that an agenda “which encouraged companies to behave recklessly towards building safety” was “actively and, regrettably, deliberately created by central government”. The comments were made as part of the opening statements for Module 6 of Phase 2 of the inquiry, which is set to focus on government. Seaward said that this agenda of deregulation, privatisation and marketisation had been in place for “more than four decades”, across multiple governments, and had “predictably… degraded public services such as building control and fire and rescue services, thereby [weakening] enforcement of these regimes, and led to the abolition of national bodies, ambiguity and confusion in the guidance which has been left unclarified, a culture of complacency created towards fire safety, both during and after building works, and private companies being enabled to put profit over people”. He stated that, in turn, these factors “contributed to the systemic failure of the building and fire safety regimes, thereby enabling the installation of cheap and dangerous rainscreen cladding systems all over the UK, including at Grenfell Tower”. Seaward specifically named the evolution of  building safety regulation “Approved Document B [ADB] with ever greater complexity and flexibility, bringing concomitant ambiguity and scope for manipulation” as an issue here, with confusion around the ADB being “ruthlessly exploited by manufacturing companies for their own commercial self-interest” according to Seaward. He also pointed to the introduction of the Building Regulations 1985, which “replaced the previously detailed technical and prescriptive regulations, covering at least 300 pages, with ‘functional requirements’ covering just 25 pages, supplemented by guidance in the ADB”. This introduction of “functional” requirements was described by Seaward as a “major change”, which brought with it “significant flexibility” that in turn “could be and was exploited by some in the construction industry”. Seaward also noted that after the Lakanal House fire, a 2009 fire in which six people died, none of the coroner’s “recommendations were implemented either effectively or at all either by Lord Pickles [Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when the recommendations were made], his successors or anyone else in government” – which Seaward said was “the consequence of the government’s deregulatory agenda”. The recommendations included ones relating to “stay put” guidance, guidance on high-rise firefighting, and sprinklers. For more information, comment and interview contact Ben Duncan-Duggal on ben.duncan-duggal@fbu.org.uk and 07825 635224.

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Central register launched for building safety managers

A new central register and a certification scheme have been launched for building safety managers following the final report and proposals for Working Group 8 – part of the industry response group tasked with developing a new framework of competence for the new Building Safety Manager role (part of the Building Safety Bill).  The Building Safety Alliance, an independent industry-led ‘not for profit’ organisation, has been formed by representatives of both the public and private sectors. It aims to implement certification of people wishing to deliver the role of building safety manager (BSM) and produce a publicly accessible register of those certified by the scheme. In due course, it will also work with others to evaluate how organisations that wish to deliver the function of the BSM can be assessed as having the organisational capability to do so. It will also look at how to assist contractors and suppliers involved in higher-risk buildings in delivering a competent workforce that understands how to ensure that residential buildings are safe. The role of the Building Safety Manager, which the accountable person will have to ensure is in place, will be to comply with a number of tasks including: Ensuring the conditions in the Building Registration Certificate are complied with to the satisfaction of the Accountable Person and the Building Safety Regulator Ensuring those employed in the maintenance and management of the building’s fire and structural safety have the necessary competence to carry out their roles Engaging with residents in the safe management of their building by producing and implementing a resident engagement strategy Reporting to a mandatory occurrence reporting regime. Building Safety Managers – the future for compliance? Simon Ince, Project Engineer at UL, explores why defining the future role of Building Safety Managers is imperative to improve the standards of building management to protect people from fire and other risks. This is the first of two articles, the second of which can be found here: Competence – A fundamental part of building safety Keeping people safe inside buildings is vital for those responsible for a building’s management, particularly in a multi-occupied residential or a high-risk setting. To keep people safe, those with the duty of care must have a robust management system in place. They must take safety seriously and plan and resource accordingly. Astonishingly, however, many buildings are still managed haphazardly and without structure or control. Sometimes building managers have questionable competence, caused by management teams imposing safety duties on employees without providing sufficient training or support. One new development that will undoubtedly improve the standard of management within buildings is the acceptance of a standard definition of the role of Building Safety Manager (BSM). As part of the work following the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy and the recommendations of Dame Judith Hackitt, this key position has been subject to much discussion. A position which was undoubtedly insufficiently defined, vague and open to interpretation as to what responsibilities and duties were required. More importantly, there was little consensus on which key life safety critical roles BSMs must undertake. How must this position be defined? Currently the British Standards Institution (BSI) is rapidly developing, via its Flex project, a Publicly Available Standard (PAS) document that will provide clear guidance on the role of the BSM. This PAS will draw influence from the recommendations made by the Competence Steering Groups Working Group 8, who published “Safer People, Safer Homes: Building Safety Management.” This document sets out the competences required for any person or an organisation holding the role of BSM. What will a PAS for the BSM facilitate? With good management of a building being so important for safety, having an accountable person with defined responsibilities and duties will help with the routine management of the property. The existence of well trained and qualified professionals overseeing vital maintenance, inspections, procurement and repairs should reduce risk and help ensure that issues are dealt with promptly. In addition to the physical fire protection measures, BSMs will help with engaging with residents, keeping structured records and reducing risk to as low a level as is reasonably practical through a safety case approach. This will help improve safety within those buildings in scope and for those owners’ operators who use the PAS as a guide to compliance. Why is this role innovative? The work around the BSM is part of a wider movement to increase accountability, competence and traceability in the housing and construction sectors, and having a BSM taking control of occupied buildings is a smart and obvious thing to do. Can smart and obvious be innovative? Absolutely, as the role of a professional building safety manager is much needed! UL continues to support the drive in the UK for improved standards by offering independent testing, inspection, training and certification services.

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