Building Regulations: “Complacency has crept in” according to Nick Hurd

The Fire Sector Federation (FSF) says it believes there has been a systemic failure in the current system of fire safety control, regulation and enforcement regime across the built environment which requires a fundamental review.

Nick Hurd, Minister of State for Policing and the Fire Service, stated in his recent speech to the Local Government Association that the Inquiry’s immediate priority must be to establish the facts of what happened in the fire in order that necessary action can be taken to prevent a similar tragedy from happening again. He also recognised that all the wider lessons must be identified and learnt.

As he stated, it is important that we get a better sense of what is happening in terms of compliance with Building Regulations, inspection and risk assessment. Mr Hurd suggested “that maybe as a system some complacency has crept in”. The FSF agrees that the terms of the Inquiry should be wide ranging and considers that the Inquiry should investigate whether there is currently a systemic inadequacy in the fire safety control, regulation and enforcement regime across the built environment in England. Consequently, the Federation believes this systemic failure requires a fundamental review and consideration of a national framework to protect the built environment.

With regards to Building Regulations the Federation says it has long been campaigning for a revision and update of Approved Document B, primarily to remove ambiguity and provide better clarity where needed and to suggest areas where additions are advisable to better reflect the current risks in the built environment. The FSF recommends the Inquiry investigate:

  • The clarity and appropriateness of the practical guidance within Approved Document B and referenced standard – particularly regarding the design and construction of the external envelopes of buildings
  • Whether the guidance given in Approved Document B and related documents has clarity and is fit for ensuring safety from fire in residential tower blocks
  • The role of other forms of guidance (“routes to compliance”); their validity and appropriateness in meeting the regulations
  • Whether the current guidance was correctly followed at Grenfell by the designer, contractors and others involved in assuring compliance, including building control
  • The applicability of the Building Regulations as they pertain to the refurbishment, alteration and upgrading of elements of a building and to seek clarity as to what aspects of the Regulation should be retrospective. In particular whether there should be any changes to the fire strategy for the building arising from the alterations and the determination made in regards to the retrofitting of automatic sprinkler protection within the building during the refurbishment
  • The interaction between the Building Regulations and the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order and the quality of the information in regard to fire safety passed from those responsible for the work on the building and the Responsible Person, in line with Regulation 38 of the Building Regulations
  • Whether deregulation and the repeal of Local Acts such as the London Building Act, resulted in a less fire safe building
  • Whether there is a need for a fixed period of regular review of ADB in future to keep pace with changes
  • The need or otherwise for the introduction of separate individual supplementary documents for buildings with risk profiles (such as residential towers).