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RIBA's Ideas for Post Grenfell Inquiry


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RIBA submit their idea to the Hackett Inquiry (looking at reviewing building regs and guidance following Grenfell)

riba submits evidence

There's some great ideas and some proper nonsense in this list

E.G. Reinstating fire certificates for blocks of flats???? (er, they never had fire certs in the first place!)

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  • 4 weeks later...

Main headlines from the interim report  by Dame Hackitt today are "Building regulations are leaving room for shortcuts"

The interim recommendations include:

  • An overhaul of the "Approved Documents" in building regulations
  • An accreditation system to ensure competence for people working on the design, construction, inspection and maintenance of complex buildings are suitably qualified
  • Better consultation with fire services when designing buildings
  • Building developers to ensure formal handover process for any new high-rise residential building before occupation
  • More done to make sure that fire safety information is passed to the person responsible for running the building once it has been constructed
  • Fire risk assessments are carried out at least annually
  • Desktop studies to approve changes to cladding should be used only where appropriate and with sufficient, relevant test evidence. The cladding on the Grenfell tower is thought to have contributed to the spread of the fire
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Although some of her recommendations cause me a few problems, I think this interim report is rather promising. 

Dame Hackitts biggest change (& main cause of Grenfell) will be the shake up of the huge and disparate building regs, including the layout of the approved documents and a change in the language as often the guidance section is called regulations.

She also talks about the dizzy and confusing array of standards- many of which are confusing and lead to mistakes. If only one recommndation of her report is acted upon, I hope it' this one.

Big changes are ahead as Dame Hackit drags the systems that control the construction and fire safety industry to the same level as the oil and gas industry. Indeed she compares the mess fire safety is in to the cock ups that led to Piper Alpha in 1988.

Interesting times ahead

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  • 2 months later...

Housing Secretary Sajid Javid said the risk to public safety in buildings with the same doors remains low.

If these doors were supplied with the relevant FD30 certification,  I would like to know how this 'low risk' remark can be justified.

It is fair to say that the FD30 (30 min) status applies in ideal/laboratory conditions. Its not likely that conditions would be idea in a social housing block, so one can assume a pragmatic reduction of that 30 mins prediction in the real world. But a 50% reduction is extraordinary and worrying

Think about firefighters using a firefighting staircase on a tall building (18m+). Think about working above a basement fire that is being held back by 2 x FD30 fire doors. The thought of these doors only providing half of their protection time, after which YOUR escape route may be compromised - It is serious stuff

Firefighters relay on fire doors probably more than most of the public as an evacuation should be complete within 15mins whereas a bridgehead might just be being established

Scary stuff

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  • 2 months later...

So what is to be made of the latest developments today where Dame Judith Hackitt's report into building regulations called for a "radical rethink" of the safety system, but stopped short of recommending an outright ban on inflammable cladding, whilst the Housing Secretary James Brokenshire announced a consultation on banning cladding "having listened carefully" to concerns.

Government will consult on cladding ban

Is it all a cop out and nothing will actually happen until after the judge led inquiry into Grenfell?:(

  • Sad 1
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To be fair to Dame H, I am not sure that was in her remit to make specific recommendations about materials and the bad press she has got may well be unnecessary . Frankly the Govt should have launched this 'ban' consultation on June 15th last year (the day after Grenfell) as it was known then that some countries had already done so. God knows why may & Co have been so lardy!

Dame H's remit was largely to consider building regulations, responsibilities, processes and procedures - and I think she has done a good job in the tight timescale she had

She recognises:

  • Roles and responsibilities through the design and construction phases are a mess and confusing - and has suggested improvements
  • She has established a HRRB (High Rise Residential Building)concept -  i.e. flats 10+ floors, which separates this higher risk building from others in terms of regulation and procedures
  • She recommends an overhaul of Approved Document B of the Building Regs (about bloody time!) 
  • She targets compliance and says processes are weak and complex - and provides remedies
  • She wants to set up a combined authority (Local authority, fire service and others) to oversee and enforce (I cannot see that happening any time soon)
  • The marketing, labelling and testing of products is described as 'opaque' and 'insufficient'. I strongly believe she should not have used those weak terms as its far far worse than that to the point of being perhaps criminal in places. But she does propose changes
  • But its competences she focuses on which will be a huge change. She compares HRRB fire safety with the pertrochemical industry where all those involved in design and safety have to prove competence in a formal way with accreditation etc . This approach may well be coming to the those who manage safety in HRRBs 

At around 120 pages, the report is a tough read and I need to go back and read it thoroughly. But at a quick read, its not too bad and most importantly, will improve safety which is what its all about.

With the late but imminent 'ban' on combustible cladding  and the findings of the Public Inquiry which starts hearing evidence next week, Grenfell's tears will lead to change. We all just have to be a bit more patient 

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