The government has announced new measures designed to improve building safety standards in the UK, which it claims “go faster and further” towards making the country’s buildings safer.
Housing secretary Robert Jenrick made the announcement, stressing that the slow pace at which changes are currently being made to improve the safety of buildings will not be tolerated.
“Progress on improving building safety needs to move significantly faster to ensure people are safe in their homes and building owners are held to account,” he stated.
Mr Jenrick also warned that he would “publicly name” the building owners that have yet to remove, or start the process of removing, the unsafe ACM cladding material. “There can be no more excuses for delay, I’m demanding immediate action,” he asserted.
Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) cladding was named as the “primary cause” for the speed with which the deadly fire at Grenfell Tower spread, Inside Housing noted last year when reporting on the findings of Sir Martin Moore-Bick’s report into the tragedy.
The government noted that many building owners have already taken steps to remove ACM cladding, but pointed out that there are some that have still been slow to act. Mr Jenrick also revealed that the government intends to consult on extending the ban on combustible materials.
Currently, the ban on these materials applies to buildings over 18m in height, but this could be extended to cover buildings that are below 18m tall. It also wants to seek views on “how risks are assessed within existing buildings to inform future policy”.
Other measures unveiled by Mr Jenrick are the creation of a new Building Safety Regulator, which will be established “in shadow form” by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) immediately, prior to the regulator being created through formal legislation, and updated, consolidated advice for building owners.
This comes following other fires at high-rise buildings in recent years, including the blaze at a block of student flats in Bolton. “This consolidated advice simplifies the language, consolidates previous advice into one place and – vitally – makes clear that building owners need to do more to address safety issues on residential buildings under 18m,” the government stated.
A new Fire Safety Bill is also being introduced to parliament, in which the government will provide greater detail on its response to the recommendations made in Phase 1 of the Grenfell Public Inquiry.
Building owners who are unsure of the action they need to take can therefore find advice in the new guidance issued by the government. They can also contact specialists in fireproof cladding to find out what steps they can take to either replace the existing cladding or make it safer.
In some cases, for instance, it may be appropriate to apply an intumescent coating to cladding. This is a fire retardant coating that can significantly reduce the speed with which flames are able to spread during a fire. Intumescent coatings are specifically designed to withstand greater heats than the cladding, which is how they are able to be effective.
With these new guidelines being released, you might want to read up on intumescent coatings on our blog, and contact us if you have any questions about whether it’s the right option for your properties.