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05
Jan

Regulatory system "not fit for purpose" says fire safety interim report


The Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety: Interim Report has found that the current regulatory system for ensuring fire safety in high-rise and complex buildings is not fit for purpose.

Following the Grenfell Tower disaster, Dame Judith Hackitt was asked by the Secretary of State for the Department of State for the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and the Home Secretary to conduct an independent review of building regulations and fire safety with a particular focus on their application to high-rise residential buildings. Comments and feedback on the findings published in this Interim Report are invited ahead of the publication of the final report in Spring 2018.

In her personal introduction to the report, Dame Hackitt refers to the recognition from many stakeholders that the current regulatory system needs an overhaul as it provides opportunity for those who want to take shortcuts to do so.

"As the review has progressed, it has become clear that the whole system of regulation, covering what is written down and the way in which it is enacted in practice, is not fit for purpose, leaving room for those who want to take shortcuts to do so."

The review examines the entire system, including the people working within it and interaction of the many parts. The focus is to create a better system for the future. As an engineer, Dame Hackitt appreciates a systematic, controlled approach where projects are specified, designed accordingly and properly reviewed; any changes to that specification are managed and reviews; and at the end, a full record of what has been built is handed over to those who will manage the project. This philosophy should apply across the life cycle of the asset. However, she says it is clear that this approach is not universal in the construction, refurbishments and management of occupied buildings. "Change control and quality assurance are poor throughout the process. What is initially designed is not what is being built, and quality assurance of materials and people is seriously lacking."

Dame Hackitt also calls for a cultural and behavioural change to ensure complex buildings are built and maintained so they remain safe for human occupation for years after the original construction. "The mindset of doing things as cheaply as possible and passing on responsibility for problems and shortcomings to others must stop," she says.

The interim report sets out the findings so far and the direction of travel for the final report. The direction for change will cover six broad areas: Regulation and guidance; Roles and responsibilities; Competence; Process, compliance and enforcement; Residents' voice and raising concerns; and Quality assurance and products.

Access the full Interim Report here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/668831/Independent_Review_of_Building_Regulations_and_Fire_Safety_web_accessible.pdf

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