Last weekend marked the third anniversary of the Grenfell tragedy. Whilst Covid-19 has delayed the inquiry, it is due to resume next month.
It may seem odd that even though the inquiry hasn’t reported its findings we have had a report from Dame Judith Hackett outlining her vision to prevent future disasters and a draft Fire Safety Bill which we can, all things being equal, expect to come into force later this year.
Sadly though, the fire at Grenfell wasn’t the first such fire involving combustible cladding in London, let alone the UK.
Whilst some cladding materials have now been banned on buildings above a certain height, the main thrust of the new Fire Safety Bill is to establish responsibilities for managing the risk from fire, starting at the design stage of a project and continuing all the way through the life of a tall building.
Much of this will match the CDM Regulations, with duties placed upon clients, Principal Designers and Principal Contractors.
Currently there is pressure being placed upon the powers that be to reduce the definition of tall buildings from 18 to 11 metres.
The bill will create a new enforcing authority, responsible for reviewing the safety criteria for new buildings and to undertake inspections and reviews during the construction phase before the building can be signed off to the new “responsible person” whose job it will be to ensure that it remains a safe place to live.
The bill also includes changes to criteria for fire risk assessments for tall buildings, and assessors will now need to satisfy themselves that the cladding to existing buildings has been installed correctly.
Sadly this will all come too late for the 73 victims of Grenfell, but hopefully we have learnt from the tragedy and with the new law in place we can avoid anything similar happening again.
Consultant Director, Health and Safety