England: the Hackitt Report reviewing building regulations and fire safety is published
17 May 2018
The independent review led by Dame Judith Hackitt was commissioned by the British government following the Grenfell Tower fire to make recommendations on the future regulatory system. It has examined building and fire safety regulations and related compliance and enforcement with the focus on multi-occupancy high-rise residential buildings. An interim report was published on 18 December 2017 and the final report was published on 17 May 2018.
The report proposes a significant reassessment of the whole regulatory system covering high-rise and complex buildings, as well as how the system works in practice. It addresses important shortcomings in the current English system of building regulations and fire safety and recommends a new framework. This framework includes a clear model of risk ownership, which is largely outcomes-based (rather than based entirely on prescriptive routes). It also considers buildings as a system, using a risk-based approach and ensuring transparency of information as well as an audit trail.
The Modern Building Alliance welcomes this ambition; the thorough process which led to the recommendations featured in the report can only be supported. Compliance and enforcement of regulations is essential for fire safety and Dame Hackitt showed this has not worked properly in England, where non-compliant products could find their way through the system. The report concentrates on fixing the whole approach, to avoid such a situation in the future. This also provides important input to the EU Fire Information Exchange Platform established by the European Commission.
For high-rise buildings, testing the fire performance of facades is an essential component of the regulatory system. Having already identified that different large-scale testing methods are existing and applied by Member States, the European Commission is currently working on a harmonised test method. Considering facades as systems when specifying and assessing their performance regarding fire spread limitation is essential, regardless of the type of materials used.
Read more about fire safety in high- and medium-rise buildings here.