London calls for ‘tougher’ fire safety rules
THE DEPUTY Mayor for fire and resilience and London Fire Brigade (LFB) commissioner Dany Cotton wrote to the government to ‘tighten up’ building regulations.
The London Assembly reported on the letter from Fiona Twycross and Ms Cotton, which ‘highlights the need for sprinklers and more skilled fire specialists’ and comes after a meeting at City Hall to promote fire safety. It called on the government to ‘tighten up’ building regulations in order to ‘prioritise the need’ for sprinklers, as well as ‘address the shortage’ of skilled fire engineers, as there has been ‘no clarity’ on the next steps of the Hackitt Review into building regulations.
This joint call asked for the government to ‘implement fundamental changes’ to prevent another fire like the Grenfell Tower blaze two years ago from happening again, with the letter sent to Communities Secretary James Brokenshire. It asks the government to ‘ensure new fire safety regulations cover a wider range of buildings than what is currently proposed’, and to make sprinklers ‘mandatory’ in new residential buildings or any where ‘vulnerable people may be at risk’.
Finally, it asked the government to ‘address the shortage of skilled fire engineers’, as this is ‘currently limiting essential preventative work’, which is ‘challenging’ without ‘urgent and targeted investment’ from ministers. The meeting at City Hall saw LFB, MPs, councillors, charities and industry experts come together to discuss the issues.
Ms Twycross, said: ‘London’s firefighters work tirelessly to keep us safe and we rightly praise them for their immense bravery, but we should also recognise the invaluable work they do every day to prevent fires. Many of the issues faced by firefighters reflect decades of failure to put fire safety – and therefore residents’ safety - at the heart of how all buildings are constructed and refurbished. This matters for all of us, but in particular for some of the most vulnerable members of our society.
‘Where City Hall has the power take action, the Mayor is leading the way in ensuring new buildings are safe via the London Plan, which requires that all new developments achieve the highest standards of fire safety at the earliest planning stages. Now, the Government must act with the same level of urgency and implement changes in regulation as well as provide the necessary resources to deliver preventative work.’
Ms Cotton added: ‘Following Dame Judith Hackitt’s review, we now need the Government to act without further delay to ensure we have robust legislation and regulation in place to make buildings safer. For too long our fire safety advice on sprinklers has been ignored. Developers must be required to include sprinklers in building design and especially in purpose built residential blocks and homes where vulnerable people live.’
Darren Rodwell, London Councils’ executive member for housing and planning, stated: ‘The top priority for London boroughs is to ensure all residents are safe – and feel safe – in their homes. Following the fire at Grenfell, boroughs put immense effort and resources into carrying out essential remedial works.
‘While a lot of safety improvements have been achieved, more change is needed at national policy level. We can’t afford to lose momentum - the government must listen and urgently address these continuing concerns.’