The Association for Specialist Fire Protection (ASFP) has welcomed the government’s plans to reform building safety and undertake a major review of the building regulations.
The association also welcomes plans to establish new regulators for building safety and for construction products, and a new construction products standards committee. It said it looks forward to ‘working with these new organisations to further improve the safety of our built environment”.
Housing secretary Robert Jenrick announced proposals for new building safety and fire safety bills, as part of the government’s response to its recent consultation on building safety.
He also declared that a review of building regulations would be undertaken, resulting in the development of a new digital-based document.
The full review is expected to take about five years to complete, and Jenrick announced that further revisions to Approved Document B would be published in May to mandate the use of sprinklers and consistent signage in all new high-rise residences over 11m tall.
The ASFP said it welcomed the proposal to undertake such a far-reaching review of the building regulations, but stressed 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 30 metres 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 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 association also gave a warm reception to 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.
Under the government’s proposals for a new national regulator for construction products and a new construction products standards committee the construction products regulator would consider a wider range of construction products and would 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 the government.
Niall Rowan, the association’s CEO, said: “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.”
He added: “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.”