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London Fire Brigade accuses construction of safety failings

The London Fire Brigade (LFB) has slammed the construction industry over fire safety, saying that it lacks competence and fails to take the issue seriously enough.

The comments formed part of the LFB’s submission to Dame Judith Hackitt’s review into Building Regulations and fire safety set up in the wake of the Grenfell tragedy.

The service criticised fire safety knowledge in construction, from initial design through to the assessment and approval of designs, as well as in fire risk assessments once a building was occupied.

It said these skills had deteriorated noticeably in the past five years.

The LFB said it regularly encountered smoke ventilation systems that had been poorly design and installed as well as poor sealing between units, which allows smoke and fire to spread.

The brigade called for formal accreditation for those that install fire safety systems, as well as a separation between building control approval bodies and fire design advisers.

It also stated a desire for an independent site inspection programme to ensure fire safety design plans were fully carried out in construction.

The LFB said that while the legislation set out in Building Regulations 2010 was generally appropriate, there was a failure to enforce the rules.

LFB assistant commissioner for fire safety Dan Daly said: “It took a tragedy for everyone to take fire safety seriously and listen to what the brigade has been saying for years about skills.

“Urgent action is needed to better regulate those who are responsible for ensuring a building’s design, construction and maintenance are fit for purpose.

“There are countless points where a dangerous decision can be made about a building’s design or upkeep and hardly any measures to ensure the people making those decisions are sufficiently experienced and properly qualified.

“This means that potentially dangerous design flaws could exist within a building until we either find it at a later date, or in the worst-case scenario, it is exposed by a serious fire.”

The Hackitt review was launched in August and is due to present an interim report this autumn, before a final report is sent to the government next spring. 

 

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