Greater emphasis on fire safety and especially on specification and construction.
The Hackitt Report published earlier in 2018 as a formal response to the general situation in construction that contributed to the Grenfell fire catastrophe has yet to be formally commented on by central Government. Yet its main recommendations and observations are already being widely welcomed, adopted and observed.
Local Authority Building Control (LABC) representing local authority approvers across England, for example, have expressed 100% support, and insurers have also said that they broadly welcome the line taken by Hackitt. Others, such as the Construction Industry Council, have taken on some of the recommendations – for example, by prominently leading groups concerned with the consideration of necessary core competencies for those along the design, specification and construction chain.
The overall message can be read as “Pay more attention to Fire Safety.” The underlying view is hardly complimentary. Hackitt calls for a culture change, especially in the construction industry. That is taken to include key functions along the chain from design to construction, including specification, purchasing, fabrication, supply and installation.
The main intent of the review is to focus on high-risk residential buildings (HRRB’s) which mainly refer to towers but can also include other types of residential buildings where the dangers of fire could cause serious injuries and loss of life to those who live in the buildings. The conclusions are being taken to apply generally across the built environment. Giving voice to residents of such buildings is given particular attention, so that they can express their fears and observations with better chances, if the report’s findings are fully implemented, of receiving better consideration from building owners and responsible authorities.
There is no doubt that Hackitt introduces a new climate for fire safety. In some respects, it is likely to lead to a fundamental shake-up of attitudes and process controls.
Fitness-for-purpose of the building and its separate parts, especially products, will be more emphasized than before Grenfell. The Hackitt Report has given a clear direction. And, as the conclusions hit home, it is likely that there will be more rigour in enforcement and a sharper focus on fire safety than might have been the case before the review was published.
A greater concentration on the details of fire safety in practice is likely to follow. And responsible authorities such as building control and the Fire Service are likely, as a result of the report, to look far more critically and carefully at fire safety measures than before. Building owners, perhaps pushed by insurers, are likely to be more cautious than previously of simply accepting what they are told.
That includes attention to the minimum requirements required by building regulations. And the specification and use of products which are intended to provide protection against fire are expected to receive much closer scrutiny, with a greater focus on recognised industry best practice.
Enforcement is likely to be emphasized as a result of Hackitt. And if there should be failures and transgressions where specifications are not good enough, or where specifications are not properly fulfilled, then the chances of those not being picked up should be expected now to be much less.
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These opinions are offered in good faith but it is the responsibility of the reader to satisfy themselves as to their veracity and form their conclusions