The Government has put forward new fire safety regulations, which will see building owners share the level of risk that the design and materials of outer walls have with emergency fire services.
It is hoped to give fire brigades an opportunity to adopt the best strategy to tackle potential blazes. However, the Home Office has abandoned a key policy, which means it will not require owners of high rise buildings to prepare evacuation plans, or make arrangements for disabled residents to escape.
The fresh regulations outlined today, which form part of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry’s first phase, will become law on 8 July, subject to parliamentary approval.
Of the 15 recommendations given to Government following the Grenfell fire tragedy in 2017, nine are due to be implemented, the Government confirmed in an update on the inquiry on Wednesday.
Other regulations, which apply to England only, require managers of high-rise buildings to provide local fire services with up-to-date electronic and hard copy floor plans and report any faulty lifts which cannot be fixed within 24 hours.
Residential blocks will also be required to have signage which can be seen in low light or smoky conditions, which show flat and floor numbers.
However, more than 1,000 residential buildings in London alone are still home to serious safety failings nearly five years after the Grenfell tragedy, which killed 72 people, according to the head of the London Fire Brigade (LFB).
LFB boss Andy Roe urged today: “We have already warned London’s building owners and managers that this was coming and we will use these new powers if they aren’t meeting their legal responsibilities.
“So we are again reiterating our calls that they need to take urgent action to fix their buildings if there are serious failings.
“We still need to see a culture change in the industry when it comes to fire safety in residential buildings. We must never forget what has brought us to this day and that is the 72 people who died at the Grenfell Tower fire and all those affected.”
Speaking at a panel yesterday, CEO of construction firm Cast Consultancy, Mark Farmer, cautioned the impacts that a regulatory overhaul will have in the construction industry, following the new Building Safety Act.
“What is clear is that the industry has an imminent structural shock about to sweep over it,” he said.
“In light of the cumulative effect of all of this, it would be a mistake to think that the proposed changes will just happen and the industry will ‘muddle through’ as it always does.”