Things are changing in the world of fire safety. Mike Sopp summarises the significant changes and consultations to date.

Independent Expert Advisory Panel

Following the Grenfell Tower fire in June 2017, the Government appointed an expert panel to advise the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, on immediate measures needed to ensure building safety and to help identify buildings of concern.

On 5 September 2018, the panel’s remit was extended and widened to include other building safety issues. See here for details on its members and purpose.

Industry Safety Steering Group

The industry safety steering group (ISSG) was established at the end of 2018 to encourage culture change across industry and to monitor industry’s progress with implementing the recommendations in the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety. It is chaired by Dame Judith Hackitt.

See here for details on its purpose, scope and jurisdiction.

Industry Response Group, including Steering Group on Competences

The Competence Steering Group and its sub-working groups were established by the construction and fire safety sectors in response to Dame Judith Hackitt’s Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety. Her report identified a lack of appropriate skills, knowledge and experience of those engaged at every stage of the life cycle of higher risk residential buildings as a major flaw in the current regulatory system.

Their remit is to develop proposals for a robust and coherent overarching system for overseeing competence requirements, and to raise competence within relevant disciplines involved in the design, construction, inspection, maintenance and management of buildings in scope of the Review.

The Group expects to publish its full report covering recommendations from all working groups shortly for an industry-led consultation.

BS 9997 Fire Risk Management Systems. Requirements with Guidance for Use

The BSI has recently consulted on converting the current PAS 7 into a full British Standard, BS 9997. The Standard, the draft of which was available in May 2019, has now reached approval stage.

BAFE Life Safety Fire Risk Assessment SP205 update

The BAFE Life Safety Fire Risk Assessment (SP205) scheme specifies that organisations have the required technical and quality management capabilities and that the staff undertaking risk assessments meet appropriate standards.

Following a thorough review process and a five-week public consultation period, BAFE has now launched the revised document for fire risk assessment providers. A major point of the review was to maintain the robust certification process, while also acknowledging the large number of sole traders and in-house fire safety teams looking to gain this independent evidence of their competency.

Notable changes to the BAFE SP205 scheme document include:

  • revised and clearer management system requirements for sole traders with guidance

  • a specific sole trader application process acknowledging current membership status to a professional trade body and/or current certification

  • all subcontractors must be third-party certificated (by a UKAS-accredited third party certification body) in their own right

  • sole traders subcontracting to another larger organisation should have their fire risk assessments validated in a separate exercise by that larger organisation

  • enhanced report monitoring for sole traders.

Consultation — Building a safer future: proposals for reform of the building safety regulatory system

This consultation looks to build on the recommendations from Dame Judith Hackitt’s Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety.

The proposals focus on fire and structural safety in England. They set out how the UK Government plans to overhaul the system for high-rise residential buildings through:

  • clearer responsibilities for those building or managing these buildings

  • a stronger voice in the system and better information for residents

  • greater oversight by regulators

  • tougher enforcement when things go wrong.

This consultation follows on from the Government’s Implementation Plan, Building a Safer Future from December 2018, and can be summarised as follows.

  • Chapter 2: the new building safety regime will initially apply to buildings lived in by multiple households that are 18m (six storeys) high or more.

  • Chapter 3: the introduction of dutyholders who will be responsible for making sure buildings are safe. The dutyholder will have responsibility at different stages of the building’s life including:

    • when a building is being designed and built

    • when people are living in the building

    • throughout the building’s lifecycle.

  • Chapter 5: ensuring that there is strong oversight of the new regime for high-rise residential buildings (as defined above) by creating a new building safety regulator to ensure it is enforced robustly and effectively.

  • Chapter 6: creating new criminal offences to make sure that those responsible for the safety of a high-rise residential building during the design and construction of the building, as well as when residents are living in the building, comply with their responsibilities.

The consultation, which can be found at GOV.UK, closes at 11.45pm on 31 July 2019.

Call for evidence — Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005

The Home Office has issued a call for evidence on the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety Order) 2005 (the “Fire Safety Order”).

This seeks views from the fire safety sector, those it regulates and enforcing authorities on the current effectiveness and application of the Fire Safety Order to provide a regulatory framework for the ongoing management of fire safety in non-domestic premises and the common parts of multi-occupied residential buildings. This call for evidence, which can be found at GOV.UK, closes at 11.45pm on 31 July 2019.

Call for evidence (closed) — Technical Review of Approved Document B of the building regulations

This consultation, which closed in March 2019, sought views on the future technical guidance contained within Approved Document B (fire safety). The feedback, currently being analysed, will be used to set the agenda, terms of reference and programme for the review and to identify what research may be needed to inform the review.

To see the original consultation, go to GOV.UK.

Call for evidence (closed) — Technical Review of Building Bulletin 100: design for fire safety in schools

To ensure the Department for Education (DfE) guidance to those who build schools is fit for purpose and aligns with the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government’s, (MHCLG) wider review of fire safety, the DfE called for evidence on BB100 ahead of a consultation and thorough review.

Responses are being analysed and the guidance will be revised as necessary. To see the original consultation, go to consult.education.gov.uk.

Consultation (closed) — RIBA: Plan of work for fire

The RIBA, in a consultation which closed in October 2018, sought views on its draft Plan of Work for Fire Safety.

The proposals focus on fire safety information from the point at which a building project is identified through to the ongoing management of the building. The draft RIBA Plan of Work for Fire Safety includes:

  • a new statutory process based on Hackitt Review recommendations

  • fire safety roles by work stage

  • rigorous review and sign off procedures by the client team, design team and construction team

  • CDM 2015 style dutyholders

  • key deliverables by role and stage.

The consultation can be seen here.

Last reviewed 12 July 2019