Government’s response to Grenfell inquiry

As we enter the new year, we thought it timely to keep the Grenfell fire disaster at the forefront of our and our clients’ thinking,

The government recently issued its response to Sir Martin Moore’s Bick Phase 1 report and we have set out below our own quick summary guide of this response:

  • Use of combustible materials – MHCLG banned the use of combustible materials on new high-rise blocks in December 2018, the response goes further announcing a consultation to review the current ban, including proposals to lower the 18-metre height threshold to at least 11 metres.
  • Changes required by law – The Home Office upcoming Fire Safety Bill will aim to clarify the scope of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 – the ‘Fire Safety Order’ – to put beyond doubt that building owners or managers of multi-occupied residential buildings of any height are required to consider fully and mitigate the fire safety risks of any external wall systems and front doors to individual flats.
    This will also affirm Fire and Rescue Service’s ability to enforce locally against building owners who have not remediated unsafe ACM cladding.
  • Stay put – Government should develop national guidelines for carrying out evacuations of high-rise residential buildings. The Home Office and MHCLG have formed a steering group together with the National Fire Chiefs Council who have inputted into the scope and commissioning of research into ‘Stay Put’ and evacuation. The work of the steering group will also contribute to MHCLG’s Technical Review of Approved Document B of the Building Regulations on building design matters relating to ‘Stay Put’ and evacuation.
    The Home Office will commission a more detailed independent evidence assessment shortly. This will include a literature review and analysis of existing policies, including international examples.
  • Fire doors – MHCLG is committed to ensuring all fire doors meet and exceed minimum standards. Sir Martin recommends building owners or the responsible persons carry out urgent checks to ensure fire doors complied with current standards. MHCLG recommended that all fire doors, including their closers, should be routinely checked or inspected by a suitably qualified professional.
    MHCLG has also issued advice through its independent Expert Panel asking landlords or building owners to communicate with residents to ensure that they are aware of the importance of maintaining the self-closing devices on all fire doors, including flat entrance doors.
  • Testing and certification –  The response recognises the importance of testing and certification of materials. this will be considered in more detail during Phase 2.
  • Building regulations –  A technical review of the guidance to the building regulations with regards to fire safety (Approved Document B) is well underway.