January 8, 2018
“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.”
In the wake of the Grenfell tragedy, a national programme of extensive fire safety testing on similar high-rise buildings across the UK revealed multiple structural safety issues and prompted the Secretary of State and Home Secretary to commission an independent review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety with a particular focus on high rise residential buildings.
Dame Judith Hackitt interim report has arrived and her summary concludes with an E.F. Schumacher quote which echoes the intention of the review body to be future-focused with the purpose of developing a simpler and more effective regulatory fire safety framework for the future.
The review is not an investigation of the specific circumstances leading to the Grenfell tragedy but an opportunity to understand the systematic failings of the current regulatory system and overhaul it to create a better system for the future; one that can lead to lasting change.
While the report is clear that catastrophic failure is extremely rare in high rise buildings it is highly critical of the existing system for ensuring fire safety identifying 6 key reasons why it is not fit for purpose:
- Current regulations and guidance are too unclear
- Clarity of roles and responsibilities is poor
- Assessing and ensuring competency of key people is inadequate
- Compliance, enforcement and sanctions processes are too weak
- A route for escalating concerns by residents is unclear and inadequate
- Systems of product testing, marketing and quality assurance is not transparent
In the worst instances, what is being designed is simply not what is being built or installed and no one is taking accountability for these decisions.
While more stringent legislation will affect change, especially if there is a stronger and more effective enforcement activity with sufficiently powerful sanctions, the report is unequivocal in seeking a change in culture where ownership and responsibility of a fire safety system is embedded throughout the life cycle of a building.
The 2nd phase of the review, scheduled for Spring 2018, will be looking specifically at a robust system that will assure residents the homes they live in are safe and will continue to be so. Key objectives include:
- The provision of simplified and unambiguous regulation and guidance
- Those who commission, design and build a project are primarily responsible for ensuring it is fit for purpose
- Formal accreditation and competence for those engaged in fire prevention aspects at all levels
- Processes that allow changes and modifications to the original design intent to be recorded and reviewed
- An effective system where residents’ concerns can be addressed
- Properly tested and certified products whose purpose is clear and easy to interpret
Dame Judith Hackitt concludes her personal view with a clear intent.
“..there is a strong sense that we can make a difference if we are bold enough to make the changes which are needed.’
As leading experts in fire safe outbuilding storage, metroSTOR will continue to offer the best guidance so informed decisions are easy to make.
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