Fire safety review announced

An independent review of building regulations and fire safety has been announced by the government.

This follows the Grenfell Tower fire, which raised questions about the fire safety of high rise residential buildings, and subsequent government testing of aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding from similar buildings across the country.

The first result from large scale tests of building cladding systems has also been published. These latest tests simulate a tall building and allow experts to understand better how different types of cladding panels behave with different types of insulation in a fire.

The first system tested (a wall cladding system using an aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding with unmodified polyethylene filler (Cat 3) and foam insulation) failed the test, which is set out in current building regulations guidance.

Immediate action is already underway to ensure the safety of residents in these buildings.

The review, to be led by Dame Judith Hackitt, Chair of EEF, the Manufacturers’ Organisation, will look at current building regulations and fire safety with a particular focus on high rise residential buildings. It will report jointly to the Communities Secretary Sajid Javid and the Home Secretary Amber Rudd.

It will examine: the regulatory system around the design, construction and on-going management of buildings in relation to fire safety; related compliance and enforcement issues; and international regulation and experience in this area.

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Government is determined to make sure that we learn the lessons from the Grenfell Tower fire, and to ensure nothing like it can happen again.

Review chair Dame Judith Hackitt said: “I am keen to engage widely with industry and the public to inform the recommendations from the review. I want the recommendations to lead to any necessary improvements in the system being made.”

It is expected that the review will present an interim report before the end of the year, and a final report no later than spring 2018.

The review was welcomed by the Construction Products Association (CPA).

Dr Diana Montgomery, chief executive of the CPA, said: “Following the Grenfell Tower tragedy it is imperative all is done to provide reassurance and ensure the safety of residents within high-rise buildings. [Dame Judith Hackitt’s] experience as chair at EEF and previously chair at the Health and Safety Executive, demonstrates she is the correct person to lead this response. The CPA looks forward to doing what we can to support these efforts.”