Current affairs Mr Martin noted that a breakdown of the safety

portfolio was required, and MHCLG created seven divisions to help cover changes: strategy; portfolio and business management; remediation policy and delivery; responsible industry and residents’ voice; regulator and accountability; energy and safe materials; and technical policy. There is also a build team working on primary legislation and a victim support team focused on those affected by Grenfell. In terms of numbers, the department had expanded to 200 people, with Mr Martin then sharing the work of the technical work programme. This includes the consultations on desktop studies and the combustibles ban, as well as the ‘clarified’ version of ADB, with a further technical review to come. On the combustibles ban, Mr Martin shared the

work undertaken to amend building regulations, noting that the ‘prescriptive requirement’ added was ‘very different’, and had seen an ‘awful lot of effort put into it’. This will now be law, and materials will need to be either A2-S1, A0 or Class A1. Areas affected within the scope of the regulation

include external walls, balconies, solar panels and sun shading. Some materials were exempt, but the main types of cladding material have been ‘mostly rejected’. Mr Martin said that the ‘clarified’ ADB would see the document reworked in a new style, with unnecessary information removed, and it reorganised into two volumes: one for dwellings, and the other for all other buildings. This would see aspects of guidance

‘consolidated into one place’, while references to standards would also be updated. The consultation had seen 138 responses with 1,350 comments, and the clarified ADB was expected to be published in early 2019. On desktop studies, it was Dame Judith’s view that the law ‘should restrict’ their use, with the consultation looking at this as well as ‘tightening guidance’ around it. Results were to be published soon, but Mr Martin ‘didn’t know when’ at the time. Finally, on the technical review of ADB, a call for

evidence was to be sent out ‘shortly’ which would ask what needed to be looked at, why it did and where the evidence base was for the changes. The detailed consultation would see ‘nothing ruled out, and everything ruled in’.

The FRS perspective

Nick Coombe of the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) has been embedded with the Home Office since Grenfell, and stated that ‘things were wrong with the industry before’ the fire, such as compartmentation, cavity barrier and external plastic vent issues. FRSs have been working on remediation, guidance and safe materials, regulation and accountability, ensuring a responsible industry and listening to residents’ concerns. With more buildings with combustible

cladding still not repaired, it was important that leaseholders did not face charges, and a ministerial task force had been set up to force builders and insurers to pay for work. A joint inspection team made up of representatives

from the Health and Safety Executive, FRSs and the Local Government Association will enforce the Housing Act, which FRSs didn’t think they could enforce outside buildings before. As the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 doesn’t affect residential buildings, there was an enforcement gap, but with the new addendum, this team can ‘get the buildings not playing ball to make changes’. Referring to ADB, Mr Coombe said a full review was needed and ‘we need to do it properly’, reiterating that an evidence base was needed. He then went on to discuss safe materials for fire doors, spandrel panels and external wall systems; the JCA as a regulator and its accountability; the ‘scope’ of the buildings under the Hackitt recommendations; enforcement and sanctions; dutyholders’ responsibilities; and the legislative gap. Areas of importance for a ‘responsible industry’

included competence, early adoption of legislation, gateway points, and the ‘golden thread’. The significance of residents’ voices was being studied via a social housing consultation, engagement, ensuring there is a responsible dutyholder and making information accessible. Looking forward, the NFCC is continuing with support and pilot programmes, assessing impacts and learning from the inquiry

William Roszczyk is editor of Fire & Risk Management. For more information, view page 5 FEBRUARY 2019 45


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