Government announces review of building regs and fire safety


Annette McGill

The Government has announced an independent review of building regulations and fire safety. The review has been ordered in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire in West London which killed at least 80 people.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government  says the review will have a particular focus on high rise residential buildings. The review will report jointly to the Communities Secretary Sajid Javid and Home Secretary Amber Rudd.

The review will examine:

  •     the regulatory system around the design, construction and on-going management of buildings in relation to fire safety,
  •     related compliance and enforcement issues, and
  •     international regulation and experience in this area.

Since the Grenfell fire on June 14 significant questions have been raised about the rules which permitted the use of aluminium cladding on high-rise blocks. The cladding was intended to improve energy efficiency but is suspected of contributing to the spread of the fire.

It has emerged that combustible material has been installed on a wide range of buildings, including residential blocks, hospitals and schools. 

The issue has also thrown a spotlight on the way the current certification system allows manufacturers to pay experts to certify that products are safe.

As well as questions about cladding systems, there have been widespread reports of poor fire safety management within the block. Residents complained that safety equipment was tested irregularly and that debris was allowed to block the tower’s only exit. 

The review will be led by Dame Judith Hackitt, the former Chair of the UK Health and Safety Executive and currently Chair of the Engineering Employers Federation. Detailed terms of reference for the review will be published after the terms of reference for the public inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire have been agreed.

It is expected that the review will present an interim report before the end of the year. A  final report is expected to be published no later than spring 2018.

The government says it will act swiftly on any recommendations from the  review.