The Fire Sector Federation (FSF) has welcomed the completion of the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety and its recommendations for a much-needed change in the culture and regulatory environment relating to construction. However, the FSF is concerned that the recommendations offer no solutions in the short term or any clear method for implementation.
The FSF welcomes the creation of a new regulatory framework and a Joint Competent Authority to oversee the management of safety risks throughout the life of a building. It is also pleased to see recognition of the need for defined responsibilities and competencies throughout the whole process from planning to building occupation.
However, given the great complexity and diversity of the construction process and the range of professionals involved, the FSF has concerns about how the recommendations will be implemented and calls for clear leadership in taking the recommendations forward.
The FSF also believes that the new regulatory framework should be applied to the full range of buildings. It is concerned that if regulation is to be banded, with more stringent requirements being placed on high risk residential buildings (HRRBs) careful consideration must be given to how such buildings are defined and their risk determined.
FSF President Brian Robinson states:
“The Fire Sector Federation (FSF) welcomes the completion of the review and recognises the direction is consistent with the UK’s approach to general health and safety.
“We are pleased to see greater focus on the recognition of responsibilities and control of the fire safety building performance through the whole process from planning to building occupation and throughout the life of a building. We also support the creation of the Joint Competent Authority.
“The report gives us a direction of travel but it is now up to the Government to drive the recommendations forward, particularly those on regulation and testing, and to set and enforce high standards. Dame Judith has formulated a long-term plan which will take time to achieve. The lack of an interim arrangement and the need for substantial further work does not give confidence in an immediate or long-term outcome which will provide residents with the reassurance they need.
“We are concerned that the proposals do not go far enough to ensure the fitness for purpose of designs, materials, products and building processes. The industry needs direction and this is just as important for contractors, sub-contractors and facility managers working on site every day as it is for members of professional institutions.
“While we welcome the recognition that the industry should take responsibility for developing suitable guidance and standards, the challenge is not for the construction sector alone. We believe that it is vital for the wider fire sector to be significantly involved in any arrangements and will collaborate widely to help develop the far-reaching solutions required to solve this highly complex problem.