The government’s lack of action over ‘deeply flawed’ Building Regulations is failing the public and ‘does not honour’ the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire, according to the RIBA
Responding to a government call for evidence on its review of fire-safety regulations, the institute’s expert group on fire safety said current guidelines were outdated.
The group’s chair, Jane Duncan, said: ‘We simply cannot allow buildings to continue to be built to regulations and guidance that everyone, including the government, acknowledges are deeply flawed.
‘20 months on from the Grenfell Tower tragedy, to continue with more consultation but not enough action fails the public and does not honour the victims.’
The group called for new requirements, such as retrofitting sprinklers in existing residential buildings above 18m, and for the government to prioritise the introduction of centrally addressable fire alarms.
It also called for at least two staircases in new multiple-occupancy residential buildings, as required already in offices and hotels, as an alternative means of escape.
It raised concerns that the existing regulations – known as Approved Document B – were developed assuming that measures to resist the spread of fire would be 100 per cent effective and the ‘stay put’ policy could be relied on.
‘As the Grenfell Tower tragedy illustrates, if a fire spreads rapidly, a reliance on the “stay put” policy can be devastating,’ it said.
Last July the government announced it would carry out a technical review of Approved Document B and in the autumn it launched a call for evidence, which closed last week (March 1), inviting views on how it could be improved.
Submissions by the RIBA and others will be used to set the agenda, terms of reference and programme for the wider review.
Late last year the government banned the use of combustible materials in new residential tower blocks above 18m, as well as in schools, care homes and hospitals.
The new legislation, lobbied for by campaigners and groups including the RIBA, came into effect last December. It prohibits all materials with a European fire rating of less than A1 or A2 in the external wall construction of buildings above the height threshold.