Protection and Building Safety News

02-04-20

NFCC responds to building safety announcements

NFCC Chair Roy Wilsher has today welcomed Ministerial announcements on sprinklers but expressed disappointment as the final scope of the new regime was revealed.

Following the consultation Building a Safer Future, Government has announced that Sprinklers and consistent wayfinding signage will be a mandatory requirement for all new build residential buildings over 11 metres tall.

However, the announcements clarified the key elements of the new regime will only apply to 18 metres buildings and those of more than six storeys. “This falls short of incorporating six storey buildings which have been deliberately constructed to cut costs and avoid trigger thresholds in guidance” said Mr Wilsher, adding: “this is a real lost opportunity to address wider risk and gaming of the system, particularly in existing building stock”.

NFCC lead for Automatic Fire Suppression Systems, Gavin Tomlinson noted “These measures are a big step in the right direction on sprinklers. We are delighted the Government has made this commitment. NFCC has played a vital role in providing advice and we are pleased the Secretary of State has taken on board our evidence on the benefits of sprinklers.”

Mark Hardingham, Chair of NFCC’s Protection and Business Safety Committee noted “Requirements for additional signage and clearly marked floors will provide valuable assistance to firefighters.”

Updates were also published on the proposed measure for Evacuation Alert Systems, in line with the Grenfell Tower Inquiry (GTI) Phase 1 recommendations.

Mr Hardingham, noted, “We are pleased to see that the introduction of Evacuation Alert Systems will be subject to further planning before changes are brought in. Emergency Alert Systems can be an additional tool for the fire service to use at major fires when there is a need to evacuate. However, such systems could potentially place people at risk if they are not part of a package of measures. We are pleased Government has responded to the evidence submitted by NFCC, and we look forward to facilitating further planning and development to ensure these measures can be phased in safely.”

Mr Hardingham added “We welcome the clarity provided this week, given the unprecedented challenge posed by the COVID-19 crisis, that remediation of unsafe cladding remains a priority for Government. Remediating high-rise buildings with unsafe Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) cladding and maintaining measures to ensure buildings are safe, is critical to public safety.”

The NFCC consider that personnel providing waking watch functions and people working on vital fire safety systems such as the installation and maintenance of fire alarms, should be considered key workers as they are providing key public services and critical safety functions in order to keep homes safe.

“We’re pleased to confirm that yesterday the Fire Protection Board successfully completed the first phase of the Building Risk Review (BRR) exercise. Positive responses were received from all fire and rescue services in England, that where there is a known un-remediated building with ACM cladding, FRSs have effective response plans in place and are monitoring the suitability of interim measures implemented by Responsible Persons.”

Mr Wilsher concluded “NFCC welcome Stephen Greenhalgh as the newly appointed joint Minister across the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and the Home Office. This can only enhance co-ordination of the response to Grenfell across the building and fire safety landscape, and we look forward to working with the Minister in his new portfolio.”

 Notes

Other updates issued this week by Government include:

 

 

 

 

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