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NEWS: After Grenfell, review to investigate “systemic failures” in fire safety

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The independent fire regs review triggered by the Grenfell disaster will investigate “systemic failures” in building regulations and fire safety, it has been announced today.


It will look at frameworks covering other industries where events can lead to the risk of large scale fatalities. It will also draw on ‘international experience of regulatory frameworks’.

Evidence gathered will lead to recommendations that can cover changes or clarifications to any part of the regulatory system, it says.

The information was given in the Independent review of building regulations and fire safety: terms of reference, which sets out the focus of the review to be submitted to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and the Home Secretary in Spring 2018.

Led by Judith Hackitt it will assess the current regulatory system (i.e. the regulations, guidance and processes) as it applies to new and existing buildings through planning, design, construction, maintenance, refurbishment and change management.

It will also:

  • Consider the competencies, duties and balance of responsibilities of key individuals within the system in ensuring that fire safety standards are adhered to;
  • Assess the theoretical coherence of the current regulatory system and how it operates in practice
  • Compare this with other international regulatory systems for buildings and regulatory systems in other sectors with similar safety risks;
  • Make recommendations that ensure the regulatory system is fit for purpose with a particular focus on multi-occupancy high-rise residential buildings.

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid commented: "We must learn the lessons of the Grenfell Tower tragedy and ensure that a fire like this cannot happen again. Following the fire, I commissioned a series of large-scale tests, which have raised the question of whether there have been potential systemic failures within the building regulatory and fire safety system.

"This independent Review led by Dame Judith Hackitt will address any potential failures and recommend how we ensure the whole building regulations and fire safety system is robust. I am determined that we do everything possible to make people safe and to ensure that they feel safe."

The terms of reference come after the latest round of fire safety tests on cladding and insulation combinations reported failures.

On 21 August government said that additional tests on a wall cladding system consisting of Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) cladding with a fire retardant polyethylene filler with phenolic foam insulation failed.

Previously, it was reported that four out of six aluminium cladding systems have failed large-scale fire tests carried out by Building Research Establishment (BRE) on behalf of the communities department.

The review will publish an interim report in Autumn 2017 before submitting its final report in Spring 2018.

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