News

25-04-18

NFCC responds to news articles about cladding tests 'failing to properly assess risk'

The National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) has today welcomed dialogue generated from a new study commissioned by the Association of British Insurers into tests carried out on cladding.

 Today there have been several news articles suggesting the standard UK fire safety test of building materials failed to properly assess risk, and raised concerns about the BSI test on external cladding, which looks at fire performance.  

 Speaking today, Roy Wilsher, Chair of the NFCC stated: “It is encouraging to see the insurance industry contributing to the active discussions currently taking place about fire safety.

 “Any research with ideas on how to improve fire safety in the built environment is to be encouraged. We believe that BS8414 is a robust test; it is important to note that there has been no evidence to date that the cladding system installed on Grenfell Tower ever underwent this test. It is for this reason that NFCC fully supports Dame Judith Hackitt’s Independent Review, so that we can understand how an untested system ended up on a building in the first place.

 “Through NFCC’s Protection and Business Safety Committee, we have worked hard to ensure that the Independent Review - and other relevant reviews - have benefited from the insight, expertise and challenge of the widest possible spread of fire and rescue service experts.

 “NFCC has had input into all six of Dame Judith’s working groups and continues to be involved in the ongoing work being carried out by the BSI in relation to fire safety standards, ensuring fire and rescue service views are heard.”

 Mark Hardingham, Chair of the Protection and Business Safety Committee added: “There are a range of ways that testing arrangements might better reflect the built environment. However, we also recognise that any test needs to be repeatable to have meaningful validity. This can be a difficult balance to achieve, as it can be challenging to control for variables such as the quality of work, as well as how buildings are maintained over their lifetime.

 “The installation and maintenance of cladding and other building systems is paramount to maintain safety. Those working on buildings - particularly high risk and complex building - need to be competent to do so, to ensure the tests are relevant to the finished product.

 “We shouldn’t be in a position where the testing regime must build in an assumption that buildings will not be built to the correct standard. NFCC welcomes the indication provided by Dame Judith that her recommendations are likely to include a strong focus on raising competency across the board.”

.Mr Wilsher noted: “The fire at Grenfell Tower was a tragedy which should never happen again. I am pleased to see the current level of open engagement and discussion with those across both industry and Government about how to improve fire safety, and would like to see this continue and increase.”

 

  • NFCC advises building owners who need help assessing fire risks or putting appropriate safety measures in place for their building, to choose a competent fire risk assessor or consultant to assist. A guide to choosing a competent risk assessor is available

  • NFCC encourages people not to keep domestic appliances on escape routes. People should register appliances online, so they can be the first to know about appliance safety issues or recalls.
  • The simplest way you can protect yourself and your family is by installing working smoke alarms, and checking them every week.
  • The report from the FPA includes the size of fire loadings found in households due to an increased use of plastics in our homes. The increased use of plastics in the construction of white goods and products must be considered in the overall construction and safety of products.
  • NFCC welcomes the new Office for Product Safety & Standards, to identify risks and responses to large-scale product recalls and repairs. This is a step in the right direction to protect consumers. NFCC will be monitoring the progress of the new OPSS and is engaged in a number of forums to encourage improvements to product design, safety and actions to deal with issues when they are discovered.
  • An effective part of an overall fire safety solution to improve fire safety in a range of new and existing buildings are the inclusion of sprinkler systems.
  • NFCC supports the concept of risk assessed retro-fitting of sprinklers in existing buildings and welcomes the prioritisation of a review of the Building Regulations (Approved Document B) to ensure fire safety requirements keep pace with new building developments.
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