London Fire Brigade

Hackitt review is a ‘first step’ towards making buildings safer says London Fire Brigade

19 December 2017

London’s fire chiefs have welcomed the interim report on the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety, led by Dame Judith Hackitt

Dan Daly, the Brigade’s Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety, said, “The interim report outlines the core areas where change is needed to make buildings safer and save lives.

“We are pleased that Dame Judith Hackitt’s interim report has taken on board many of the issues raised by the Brigade’s fire safety experts; things the Brigade has been saying for some time about ensuring that a  building’s design, construction and maintenance are fit for purpose.

“It took a tragedy for everyone to take fire safety seriously and listen to what the Brigade has been saying for years.

“Whilst the direction of travel signaled by Dame Judith suggests a significant shift in building safety for the future, there is more to be done now to ensure our buildings are safe.

“What needs to happen next is clear, and the core areas for improvement are outlined in Dame Judith’s report.”

The Brigade continues to urge Londoners to ensure they know the escape plan for their building and what to do if a fire breaks out. Living in a flat is not more dangerous than living in a house, but it's important to know your escape plan will be different.

In its submission to Dame Judith Hackitt, the Brigade called for:

  • A loophole to be closed that means that some very technical fire safety elements can be designed without the involvement of a competent fire safety professional for example escape routes.
  • Formal qualifications or accreditation for those who install life saving systems like smoke ventilation and fire detection and alarms.
  • Clearer definition of who is responsible for what under fire safety legislation.
  • A clamp down on companies who act as a building control body as well as offering fire engineering design advice without clear separation between the two roles.
  • A robust independent on site inspection program that ensures the fire safety elements of a building’s design are translated into the finished construction.

Dame Judith’s independent review states there needs to be “significant improvement” in areas of:

  • Regulation and guidance as the current regulation and guidance is complex and unclear and there is confusion about what constitutes regulations and what is guidance.
  • Roles and responsibilities as there is a “general lack of clarity” within the system.
  • Competence of those involved in the building design, construction, management and maintenance industry needs a consistent way to be assessed and verified.
  • Process, compliance and enforcement is poor and does not provide adequate means of compliance assurance or a deterrent for not compliance.
  • Residents’ voice and raising concerns – the route for concerns to be raised and addressed is unclear
  • Quality assurance and products – the current methods for testing, certification and marketing of construction products and systems are “not clear”.

Dame Judith’s final report is expected in Spring 2018.