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Fire safety bill must be reinforced with more powers to be effective

Grenfell © Shutterstock
LGA says safety bill is a step in the right direction © Shutterstock

25 March 2020 | Herpreet Kaur Grewal 


The government's forthcoming fire safety bill must be backed with effective powers and sanctions to be truly effective, says the Local Government Association (LGA).

 

The government published a bill placing a legal requirement on residential building owners to inspect cladding and fire doors last week.

 

The government said it builds on action already taken “to ensure that people feel safe in their homes, and a tragedy like the Grenfell Tower fire never happens again”.

 

The bill will provide “a foundation for secondary legislation to take forward recommendations from the Grenfell Tower Inquiry phase one report, which stated that building owners and managers of high-rise and multi-occupied residential buildings should be responsible for a number of areas”.

 

These include:

 

• Regular inspections of lifts and the reporting of results to the local fire and rescue services;

 

• Ensuring that evacuation plans are reviewed and regularly updated and personal evacuation plans are in place for residents whose ability to evacuate may be compromised;

 

• Ensuring that fire safety instructions are provided to residents in a form that they can reasonably be expected to understand; and

 

- Ensuring that individual flat entrance doors, where the external walls of the building have unsafe cladding, comply with current standards

 

Lord Porter, the association’s building safety spokesman, said:“The LGA has been calling for councils and fire services to be given effective powers and meaningful sanctions to ensure residents are safe – and feel safe - in their homes.

 

“This bill is an important step in the right direction.

 

“While councils are leading local efforts to support communities through the coronavirus crisis, the risk to residents in buildings with dangerous cladding systems remains.

 

“This bill is a positive step but needs to be backed up by further effective powers and sanctions, which we have been promised in the forthcoming building safety bill, and sufficient funding to carry out the necessary inspections and enforcement activity.”