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05-07-17

Fire Minister's speech at the Fire Safety Conference

Nick Hurd attended the Fire Safety Conference 2017 organised by Westminster Briefing yesterday (July 4th 2017).

The Fire Minister's speech included information about Grenfell tower and key points included:  

  • The first priority is to ensure that people who have been directly affected by the fire are cared for and receive all the support they need. 
  • The second, as I’ve said, is to ensure that people in similar buildings are safe and, feel safe, in their homes.
  • Thirdly, that we have got to make sure that we reassure the public that we all serve about the safety of buildings they are in and increase levels of public confidence about the whole system which we manage together, to manage the risk of fire and to give the public reassurance. 

He further referenced the independent expert advisory panel and said they would act as a conduit for fire and rescue services who have a vital role to play. 

His speech also included:

Public inquiry

In terms of the public inquiry and as the Prime Minister has announced, there will be an independent, judge-led public inquiry, led by Sir Martin Moore-Bick.
The inquiry’s immediate priority will be to establish the facts of what happened in order to take the necessary action to prevent a similar tragedy from happening again.
But beyond that immediate focus it is also important that all the wider lessons from both this catastrophe, and the checks of other buildings around the country that followed it, are identified and learnt.
We must, and I’m sure everyone in this room will agree, get to the truth about what happened, so no stone will be left unturned by this inquiry. The inquiry will also produce an interim report to ensure we identify lessons as early as possible.

Expert panel

And as I’ve already said, it’s essential that people in similar buildings to Grenfell Tower are safe and feel secure in their own homes. Building regulations and fire safety systems have been developed over many decades.

Until the Grenfell Tower fire, it could have been said these systems worked. The numbers of fires have fallen as you know by half over the past decade and the number of fires in purpose-built high-rise flats has fallen by 43 percent since 2009/10.

But at Grenfell Tower we witnessed a catastrophic failure on a scale that many thought impossible in 21st century Britain. It is clear that this failure must be understood and rectified without delay, and the government is determined to ensure that happens.

As an initial step, DCLG has established an independent expert advisory panel to provide independent advice to my colleague the Communities Secretary on any immediate measures needed to ensure people living in high rise buildings are safe.

The panel is made up of a range of building and fire safety experts, chaired by Sir Ken Knight, and will draw in wider technical expertise as necessary to inform their advice.

In particular the panel will:

  • focus on providing advice relating to fire and building safety, and in particular how to ensure the public are safe in high rise buildings
  • consider whether there are any immediate additional actions that should be taken to ensure the safety of existing high rise buildings
  • consider whether there are any changes or clarifications required to existing regulations, and provide advice on possible changes, including making recommendations on the use of specific materials
  • consider whether the current processes for checking building safety are fit for purpose, and whether any changes are required. I’d encourage anyone in this room who has expertise or views on this to share it 

Please read the full speech on the Home Office website

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