Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick this week announced new measures to improve building safety standards.
Speaking at the House of Commons, Jenrick commented, “The government is committed to bringing about the biggest change in building safety for a generation. 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.”
The minister announced that a new building safety regulator will be established within the Health and Safety Executive, and that the government will publish guidance for building owners.
Clive Everett, façade Technical Standards Director at Premier Guarantee, commented on the announcement: “As well as updating information on buildings above 18.0m, the MHCLG again reiterates and reinforces, through this announcement, its expectations in respect to Buildings that are below 18.0.
The key reminders of the announcement are that regulatory requirements regarding external fire spread are equally applicable to these buildings, and the MHCLG's expectation is that building owners will have obtained and maintained Fire Safety Assessments, which include and consider the combustibility of the external façade materials used.”
The newly published document states, “The need to assess and manage the risk of external fire spread applies to buildings of any height.” It continues, “We strongly advise building owners to consider the risks of any external wall system and fire doors in their fire risk assessments, irrespective of the height of the building, ahead of the planned clarification.”
The document also outlines guidance for any buildings with ACM Cladding: “In all instances where ACM is present in buildings above 18m, building owners have been advised that they should seek professional advice on what further steps to take with respect to their cladding system based on the specific circumstances of their building, and to satisfy themselves that their building is safe.”
On building owners who have thus far failed to address dangerous cladding, Jenrick said, “Unless swift progress is seen in the coming weeks, I will publicly name building owners where action to remediate unsafe ACM cladding has not started. There can be no more excuses for delay, I’m demanding immediate action.”