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Government advises councils on new fire-safety responsibilities

1200px grenfell tower fire (wider view)
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Government officials have written to council chiefs setting out their responsibilities in the wake of an interim report on fire safety in the light of the Grenfell Tower tragedy

Housing ministry deputy divisional director Offer Stern-Weiner wrote to key figures at local authorities across England and Wales after the interim report recommended early consultation with the fire services when designing buildings.

The review of Building Regulations, by engineer Judith Hackitt, stated that the current regulations were ‘not fit for purpose’, and identified six broad areas for change.

These included a recommendation that consultation with the fire service should take place early in the process of designing and commissioning building schemes.

Stern-Weiner wrote that this consultation should ‘take place as early as possible’.

‘In particular, local authorities would need the views of the fire and rescue authority before approving a full plans application under section 16 of the Building Act,’ added Stern-Weiner.

‘Observations made by the fire and rescue authority that are relevant to compliance with Building Regulations should be given full consideration by the building control body.’

Stern-Weiner’s letter added that the government intended to consult on rewording Approved Document B – which gives practical guidance on complying with fire safety requirements of the Building Regulations – to make it easier to use.

The RIBA last year slammed Hackitt’s interim report for shying away from ‘introducing immediate and effective changes’.

Earlier this month a panel of MPs criticised Hackitt for ruling out an in-depth look at the rules governing design of electrical installations

Her final report is expected soon.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • It would be much better if in the wake of the Grenfell tragedy if the government would come up with some joined up thinking about fire risk and external cladding, instead of leaving the decisions to local fire brigades who must rely on not-fit-for-purpose Building Regulations.
    This government should be called a 'Nero Government', fiddling whilst the country burns.
    I suggest nothing but completely incombustible external materials and finishes for all buildings over 2 stories / 5 M high.
    All combustible materials on existing buildings to be replaced by non-combustible materials.

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