Grenfell Tower Safety Review, Dame Judith Hackitt Report, Building Cladding, West London High Rise Fire News

Grenfell Tower Hackitt Review

Dame Judith Hackitt Report on North Kensington Block of Flats Fire, London – Building Facade Issues

18 Apr 2018

Grenfell Tower Hackitt Review 2018

Grenfell Tower Fire Safety Review News

The official review of fire safety regulations by Dame Judith Hackitt launched in response to the Grenfell Tower disaster has been heavily criticised by safety experts.

The Dame Judith Hackitt review has been accused of having a lack of transparency and alleged conflicts of interest.

Controversy surrounds the senior role for UK advisory group BRE in the review.

BRE created the official fire test and assessment process for combustible cladding systems. The company are also paid by plastic materials manufacturers to test their products.

Debbie Smith, BRE Global Managing Director, was appointed chair of the review’s “materials, systems and product testing” working group which meets at BRE’s headquarters.

Earlier in 2018 the All Party Parliamentary Fire Safety and Rescue Group in the House of Lords was reportedly shut out of Dame Judith Hackitt’s Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety.

RIBA Concerns with Dame Judith Hackitt Review

This week, the RIBA raised serious concerns over the direction of the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety, led by Dame Judith Hackitt and commenced in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire.

The RIBA set up the Expert Advisory Group on Fire Safety following the tragedy at Grenfell Tower and since then has been working with Dame Judith on the Review. This week however, the Group wrote to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government Sajid Javid MP, urging an immediate consideration of the recommendations laid out by the RIBA before the final report is due in May.

In the letter to Sajid Javid from the Chair of the Group, Jane Duncan, we welcomed the suggestions in Dame Judith’s interim report that there should be clearer definition and allocation of statutory duties, increased independent oversight of construction quality and better building control enforcement. However, we raised significant concerns that key changes to ban flammable cladding, require sprinklers to be fitted and ensure there is a second means of escape for high rise residential buildings seem to have been overlooked.

Grenfell Tower fire, 4:43 a.m. on 14 June 2017:
Grenfell Tower fire in West London building
photograph by Natalie Oxford, courtesy of wikimedia commons

RIBA Fire Safety Recommendations

We have made four key recommendations:

  1. External walls of buildings over 18m in height to be constructed of non-combustible (European class A1) materials only
  2. More than one means of vertical escape from new multiple occupancy residential buildings over 11 metres high, consistent with current regulations for commercial buildings (which are arguably lower risk)
  3. Retro-fitting of sprinklers / automatic fire suppression systems to existing residential buildings above 18m from ground level in height as “consequential improvements” where an existing building is subject to ‘material alterations’
  4. Sprinklers/automatic fire suppression systems in all new and converted residential buildings, as currently required under Regulations 37A and 37B of the Building Regulations for Wales

The chair of the RIBA’s Expert Group and the Institute’s Immediate Past resident Jane Duncan expresses worry that the current set of proposals under consideration by Dame Judith Hackitt will not provide clarity for professionals or deliver assurance for the public.

Immediate Past President of RIBA and Chair of the RIBA’s Expert Advisory Group on Fire Safety, Jane Duncan says:

“The RIBA has engaged closely with Dame Judith and her Review and we welcome many of the suggestions made in her interim report to strengthen the building control system.  However, we fear that the current set of proposals under consideration overlook simple but critical changes that would provide clarity for professionals and most importantly, would help protect the public. Sprinklers, a second means of escape and a ban on flammable cladding for high rise residential buildings are common-sense recommendations, and a basic requirement in many other countries. We have written to the Secretary of State making clear that there must be a thorough re-writing of the building regulations and guidance on all aspects of fire safety, to avoid continuation of the regulatory failings that lead to the Grenfell Tower fire.”

Read the full briefing document sent to Dame Judith Hackitt at Sajid Javid. For more information about how the RIBA has responded to the seeGrenfell Tower fire.

Previously on e-architect:

Grenfell Tower Cladding Problems

Grenfell Tower Cladding Issues

Grenfell Tower burnt out flat after fire
photo : Metropolitan Police

Grenfell Tower Fire

Grenfell Tower Cladding

UK Tower Cladding Tests

Building with Reynobond ACM PE Panels

Grenfell Cladding Test Is “An Absolute Failure”

The British government has called for another independent inquiry, this time into the design and construction regulatory systems.

Grenfell Tower Fire: ACM cladding testing

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has published results of the first of the large scale tests.

The first of the ‘systems tests’, assessing the fire safety of whole buildings, has been taking place at Building Research Establishment (BRE).

BRE Systems Tests

Grenfell Tower London cladding exposed

Grenfell Tower cladding exposed

Grenfell Tower fire-proof cladding – article in The Guardian

Grenfell Tower aluminium cladding – BBC article

Grenfell Tower Combustible Cladding Supplier – Reuters report

RIBA Statement on Design for Fire Safety

Grenfell Tower Fire Safety Analysis

Grenfell Tower Fire Footage – BBC link, interview with an escapee from 7th floor

Grenfell Tower Celotex Insulation

Safety checks following Grenfell Tower

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