Final conclusions are published of the “Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety” (Dame Judith Hackitt report), ordered by the UK Government following the Grenfell Tower fire (May 2017). The report concludes that “the current system of building regulations and fire safety is not fit for purpose and that a culture change is required”. In particular the report underlines: unclear responsibilities in building, design, construction and maintenance; ambiguous regulations; weak compliance system and poor record keeping; opaque and inadequate product testing regime and inadequate attention paid to residents’ voices on safety. The report’s recommendations mainly address clarifying regulation, compliance, responsibilities, procurement and record keeping, but also include clarifying rights and obligations for residents and defining a “more effective testing regime with clearer labelling and product traceability” with periodic reviews of test methods and better market surveillance. Critics of the report regret that its regulatory recommendations are proposed for buildings of 10 storeys or more and that complete replacement of the current test methodology for insulation panels is not recommended (BS8414). The UK Government has however commissioned BSI to develop a new standard to define when “desk assessments” can be used instead of product testing (to replace current BS EN 15725:2010). The report does recommend that critical materials be re-tested every three years, that the testing regime should be regularly reviewed, and that product labelling and traceability be improved “throughout the life cycle of a building through the golden thread of building information”.
In response to this review, the UK Government (James Brokenshore, Housing Secretary) has announced a number of commitments, including the intention to engage a consultation on “banning the use of combustible materials in cladding systems on high-rise residential buildings”. Other actions promised include probably banning the use of “desktop studies” to replace fire testing (for this a consultation closed 25th May), enabling resident “whistle blowing” on non-conformity and reforming the building regulatory system and fire safety guidance.
“Building a Safer Future. Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety: Final Report”, Presented to Parliament by the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government by Command of Her Majesty, May 2018, Dame Judith Hackitt, refs. Cm 9607 – ISBN 978-1-5286-0293-8 https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/668747/Independent_Review_of_Building_Regulations_and_Fire_Safety.pdf
UK Government reaction to the Hackitt Review “Government commits to major building safety reforms”, press release, 17th May 2018 https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-commits-to-major-building-safety-reforms