The National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) has welcomed the announcements by Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, as an encouraging step towards fixing the cladding crisis and improving building safety.
On Monday (10/01/22) the Government outlined its new approach to protect leaseholders from paying for the expensive remediation of unsafe cladding on buildings above 11 metres, and that developers and cladding companies will instead be required to fund the work. The announcement included a call for developers to identify and provide information on buildings with historic fire safety defects from the last 30 years where they have been involved in their construction.
The NFCC believes this is a positive step in the right direction, and calls on Government for this to be supported by further changes so new buildings are built as fire safe buildings through a strengthening of Approved Document B.
NFCC's Protection and Business Safety Committee Chair, Gavin Tomlinson, said:
"The NFCC welcomes the Government's announcement on fixing the cladding crisis and improving building safety. We will be keenly looking at what it means for leaseholders, potential funding for the identified historic fire safety defects, and fire and rescue services. The NFCC has always said the financial burden and emotional impact on leaseholders was unfair, and this is an encouraging move towards redressing the balance.
"We will continue to urge the Government to take further steps on building safety. We would like to see the review of Approved Document B expedited, and the guidance to be updated to ensure that new buildings are safer and more inclusive from the outset. To improve accessibility and ensure that homes are fit for purpose, we would like more requirements in terms of stairs, evacuation lifts, and use of measures such as refuge areas to be considered."
Mr Gove also made a commitment of £27 million to fund fire alarm installation in buildings with a waking watch. Mark Hardingham, NFCC Chair, added:
"The NFCC welcomes this additional funding to install fire alarm systems. Installing fire alarm systems is a more reliable, safer and cost-effective solution to early fire detection, which will almost always remove or significantly reduce the need for waking watches."