The Association for Specialist Fire Protection (ASFP) welcomes the Government’s plans to reform building safety and undertake a major review of the building regulations, a move which the Association believes is long overdue. The Association also welcomes plans to establish new regulators for Building Safety and for Construction Products, and a new Construction Products Standards Committee and looks forward to working with these new organisations to further improve the safety of our built environment.
Secretary of State for Housing Robert Jenrick announced proposals for a new Building Safety Bill, as well as a new Fire Safety Bill as part of the Government’s response to its recent consultation on building safety. He also declared a major holistic review of the building regulations would be undertaken, resulting in the development of a new digital based document. With the full review expected to take around five years to complete, he announced further revisions to Approved Document B will be published in May, which will mandate the use of sprinklers and consistent signage in all new high rise flats over 11m tall.
The ASFP is delighted with the proposal to undertake such a far-reaching review of the building regulations but stresses that changes introduced, both following the review and in the interim, should consider the vital role of both passive and active fire protection systems which must work together to provide a complete fire safety package.
The ASFP also applauds the early introduction of the new building regulator. The Building Safety Regulator, to be established under the auspices of the HSE, will be responsible for enforcing a more stringent regulatory regime covering buildings over 30m tall or of 10 storeys or more and will be responsible for completing a register of buildings in scope and for oversight of their fire safety. The new Buildings Regulator will need to liaise with existing regulatory bodies and fire safety organisations to ensure that it has the most appropriate and up-to-date construction and fire-related knowledge.
The ASFP is pleased to see that the proposals suggest the new Regulator will also have a wider role in monitoring the performance of all buildings – not just those in scope – through its involvement in the review of Building Regulations and oversight of building control bodies. The Association also welcomes the proposals for the regulator to take over from the industry-led Competence Steering Group (CSG) to review, develop and implement its work and manage a new system aimed at assessing and assuring the competence of people across all disciplines working in buildings.
The ASFP also welcomes the Government proposal for a new national regulator for Construction Products and a new Construction Products Standards Committee. The Construction Products regulator will consider a wider range of construction products and will be responsible for market surveillance and oversight of local enforcement actions; enforcement action with manufacturers when issues are judged to be of national significance; and provision of appropriate advice to government. The ASFP is encouraged that the regulator also aims to develop a range of third party certification standards.
In addition, a new Construction Products Standards Committee will work on the development of technical standards for construction products and will advise the Government whether voluntary industrial standards should become UK regulatory standards, a role currently undertaken by the European Commission.
Commenting on the full range of Government announcements, ASFP CEO Niall Rowan declared:
“The ASFP, along with many other stakeholders, has been calling for a full review of Building Regulations for many years. We are pleased the Government is now poised to conduct a far-reaching holistic review. We also broadly welcome the Government’s proposals for a range of new national regulators and committees to provide oversight and control of the fire safety regime in England and Wales.
“We hope the establishment of a new Building Safety Regulator will greatly strengthen the enforcement regime across the entire built environment and welcome the moves to improve oversight of product and third party certification standards.
“Changes in building materials and construction processes have transformed the way in which our building stock behaves in fire; and poor workmanship and light touch enforcement of building regulations has frequently resulted in buildings that offer poor levels of fire protection.
“We look forward to sharing our expertise both with Government and the newly established regulators to ensure that high standards for passive and active fire protection products and their correct installation will ensure the safety of the our built environment both now and in the future.”