In 2016/17, there were a total of 37,718 dwelling fires attended by fire and rescue services in Great Britain. Although occupier behaviour is typically the major reason for fires starting, the design and characteristics of a building will affect the potential for a fire to spread or to be undetected and, therefore, impact on the likelihood of the fire causing harm.
Independent review of building regulations and fire safety
In 2017, the government announced an independent review of building regulations and fire safety. This forward-looking independent review, led by Dame Judith Hackitt, Chair of EEF, the Manufacturers’ Organisation, was to look at current building regulations and fire safety with a particular focus on high rise residential buildings. The final report is due this Spring, and it will report jointly to the Communities Secretary Sajid Javid and the former Home Secretary Amber Rudd.
The review was to consider:
- The regulatory system around design, construction and on-going management in relation to fire safety.
- Compliance and enforcement issues.
- International regulation and experience in this area.
In December 2017, the interim report was published, calling for a ‘universal shift in culture’. Its key findings were:
- A culture change is required – with industry taking greater responsibility for what is built – this change needs to start now.
- The current system for ensuring fire safety in high-rise buildings is not fit for purpose.
- A clear, quick and effective route for residents to raise concerns and be listened to, must be created.
This was accompanied with the following statement from Dame Judith Hackitt:
“I have found that the regulatory system for safely designing, constructing and managing buildings is not fit for purpose. The current system is highly complex and there is confusion about the roles and responsibilities at each stage. In many areas there is a lack of competence and accreditation. While this does not mean all buildings are unsafe, it does mean we need to build a more effective system for the future. That is why I am today calling for the construction industry, building owners, regulators and government to come together to identify how to overcome these shortcomings together.”
At Bryburn, ensuring the comfort and safety of our clients is a key priority. The report’s preliminary findings have challenged our industry to make vital changes in its approach to quality, standards and health and safety.
In line with our commitment to on-site health and safety, we are already committed to ensuring the safety of the homes we build and adapt for our clients. This is particularly imperative due to our work in providing disability solutions. Any impairment of mobility increases vulnerability to fire as it impacts on the ability to, and speed of, escape.2 Therefore, reducing the risk of fires in the homes of vulnerable individuals is of paramount importance.
We are keen to keep abreast of the report’s future findings, and interested to hear of the recommended industry changes. We are already confident the work we deliver is to a high standard and quality. However, in ensuring we are ready to adhere to any new regulations, we can ensure the homes we build are safe not just for today but for tomorrow.