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A new building safety regulatory system needs to be designed to prevent tragedies rather than reacting to them, warn London Fire Brigade today.
In its consultation response to the Government’s response to Dame Judith Hackitt’s Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety, the Brigade says that the proposals for reform are a start, but much more detail is needed before we are satisfied that the fundamental change needed has been delivered.
If the, as Dame Judith Hackitt coined “broken”, building safety system is not fixed, people moving into homes built this year could potentially be at risk for the next 50 years.
However, the Brigade wants the Government to focus on the built environment and not solely on tower blocks, calling for a new regulatory system to apply to all buildings.
The new system should also apply to both new buildings and existing buildings, however there would need to be a phased and logical approach to current buildings.
If building’s are not designed, built and maintained in a safe way, fire and rescue services will not be able to predict how a fire would develop or what impacts it would have and there is a very real risk of another tragedy where there is a large loss of life.
The Brigade warns that as it stands, residents are potentially being put at risk because there is no Building Safety Regulator and there is a culture of doing the minimum to meet requirements, which needs to stop.
People in charge of designing, building and maintaining buildings need to show that they are committed to keeping people safe for the lifetime of the building. This should be accompanied by clearly identified and defined roles and responsibilities so that those who do not fulfil their duties can be held accountable.
The Brigade has also submitted a separate consultation response to the Home Office’s call for evidence in relation to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
The way in which safety features are designed and installed needs to be documented so those responsible for buildings have a full understanding and for residents to have more access to information about where they live.
Among the key areas the Brigade has been calling for review is for Automatic Fire Suppression Systems (AFSS) such as sprinklers to be mandatory in a range of buildings, particularly in all buildings housing vulnerable people and in schools.
We have also previously called for a full review of firefighting access and facilities at buildings and a greater level of competency and skill across the building sector.