ASFP ‘encouraged’ by government’s Hackitt response

ASFP ‘encouraged’ by government’s Hackitt response

THE ASSOCIATION for Specialist Fire Protection (ASFP) said it ‘broadly welcomes’ the government’s response to the review and its acceptance of the recommendations.

In December, the government announced that a ‘stronger and more effective’ regulatory framework would implement all of Dame Judith Hackitt’s recommendations, and review building regulation fire safety guidance. Dame Judith Hackitt’s review of building regulations and fire safety was launched last year after the Grenfell Tower fire, with its interim review finding that a ‘universal shift in culture’ is needed to rebuild trust ‘among residents of high-rise buildings’.

The final report was released in May, but ‘stopped short’ of proposing a ban on flammable cladding, though the government later said it would open a consultation on the matter. The government’s response had been keenly awaited, and it reported that a ‘stronger and more effective regulatory framework’ will ‘implement the recommendations’ made by Dame Judith, and ‘commits the government to a programme of reform over the coming years’.

The ASFP ‘broadly welcomes’ the acceptance of ‘the majority of’ Dame Judith’s recommendations, and the announcement of a review of Approved Document B of the Building Regulations (ADB), stating that it was ‘encouraged’ by the intention to implement all recommendations. It is concerned however about the ‘pace of change’, as the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) said it would ‘only consult’ on many aspects and not until spring 2019.

It welcomed the review’s focus on fire safety in the design process, the mandatory sign off procedures at gateway points in construction and the focus on ‘improving levels of competency’, and noted it has been ‘actively working’ with others in working groups to deliver the ‘overarching competency framework’. MHCLG’s aim to improve testing standards and ‘ensure clarity’ in marketing was also supported, alongside the government’s support for third party certification.

On this note, the ASFP believes this should be extended from products to installers because ‘this is where many of the current problems lie, and thought that the new requirements for assessments in lieu of tests, or desktop studies, were ‘quite restrictive’, as well as featuring contradictions for which it will ‘be seeking clarification’.

Niall Rowan, chief executive officer of the ASFP, commented: ‘The Association welcomes the Government’s aim to implement Dame Judith’s recommendations as we strongly agreed with her conclusions; many of which reflect what the fire community, including the ASFP, has been saying for some years. We also welcome the announcement of a full review of Approved Document B, which we believe is long overdue.

‘We are pleased to see support for third-party certification schemes for fire protection products and looks forward to working with Government and other stakeholders to develop minimum standards for such schemes. We also welcome the tightening of the qualifications, experience and training  required of those who will undertake assessments in lieu of tests, but will seek clarification as to the scope, particularly for non-building envelope related products.

‘We understand the recommendations of the Hackitt Review were detailed and wide-ranging, since they called for a complete overhaul of the building regulatory system. We look forward to working with Government and other stakeholders to achieve the extensive and lasting culture change necessary to ensure the safety of our existing and future built environment.’