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NEWS: Hackitt to lead independent building regs review after Grenfell Tower blaze

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The government has ordered an independent review of building regulations and fire safety following the Grenfell Tower fire, to be led by HSE’s former chair Dame Judith Hackitt.


The review – which will look at current building regulations and fire safety, with a particular focus on high rise residential buildings – will report jointly to the communities secretary Sajid Javid and the home secretary Amber Rudd. The announcement came as the government revealed that the first of six combinations of wall cladding systems commonly found on high rise residential buildings had failed fire safety tests designed to assess compliance with current building regulations guidance.

Announcing the independent review, Mr Javid said: “Since the tragic Grenfell Tower disaster, the government has been working to make sure people living in high rise buildings are safe.

“It’s clear we need to urgently look at building regulations and fire safety. This independent review will ensure we can swiftly make any necessary improvements. Government is determined to make sure that we learn the lessons from the Grenfell Tower fire, and to ensure nothing like it can happen again.”

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
  • International regulation and experience in this area.

According to the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), the review will consult the Building Regulations Advisory Committee – which advises the government on changes to building regulations – as well as the construction and housing industry, the fire sector, international experts, MPs and the public.

The review will also “work closely with other government departments and the devolved administrations and consider the implications of changes to the regulatory system on other government objectives”.

The terms of reference for the review will be published this summer, once the terms of reference for the Grenfell Tower Public Inquiry have been agreed. An interim report “is expected” before the end of the year, and a final report “no later than spring 2018”, adds DCLG.

Dame Hackitt, who was HSE’s chair from 2007-2016 and is now chair of EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, said: “I am keen to engage widely with industry and the public to inform the recommendations from the review. I want the recommendations to lead to any necessary improvements in the system being made.”

Meanwhile, the government has issued updated fire safety advice to affected building owners following the results of the first large scale tests on wall cladding system combinations found on high rise residential buildings.

The tests – which are being carried out by the Building Research Establishment – are combining three different types of aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding with two different types of insulation to test their combustibility when taken together.

The first of the six systems tested - a wall cladding system featuring an aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding with unmodified polyethylene filler and foam insulation - failed the test set out in current building regulations guidance.

According to the government, 82 buildings are “currently known” to feature this combination of materials in their wall cladding systems, 47 of which are local authority or housing association owned or managed. All have been issued with new advice today on how to ensure the safety of their buildings.

In a statement, the independent expert advisory panel on building safety appointed to advise the government on immediate measures needed to make buildings safe for residents following the Grenfell Tower fire, said: “This next phase of testing provides further information for landlords to make informed decisions about what actions to take to ensure the safety of residents and reassure the public.

“This reconfirms the advice already provided to building owners about the immediate steps they should take to ensure buildings are safe.

“Landlords of buildings with cladding using the same combination of materials as in this first full scale test must now act on the additional advice they have been given since this test, to seek professional advice about any necessary remedial work.”

A DCLG webpage drawing together the latest news, advice and guidance on the government's programme to ensure fire safety at high rise buildings can be found here.

The full list of government announcements and actions in light of the disaster can be found here.

 

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