New fire safety measures have been annouced, writes Herpreet Kaur Grewal.
06 January 2020 | Herpreet Kaur Grewal
In the weeks and months following the publication of the public inquiry's report into the Grenfell Tower disaster that killed 72 people other institutions are stepping up fire safety regulations.
In Scotland last month residents in high-rise properties were sent leaflets outlining how to prevent fires in the home and what to do if one starts in their building.
The advice, produced by the Scottish Government and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, was delivered to high-rise homes during December. The literature will also be available in libraries and community centres in all 15 local authorities containing the properties.
Guidance is also being published for those responsible for fire safety in high-rise buildings, including councils, housing associations, owners and private landlords.
Community safety minister Ash Denham said: "The tragic events at Grenfell Tower emphasised how important building and fire safety is. Although we already have stringent regulations in place, we are determined to do everything we can to strengthen the safety of those living in high-rise buildings.
"The information leaflets for residents will set out clearly and simply the steps they can take to help prevent fires, and the ways people can best ensure their own safety as well as that of relatives and neighbours.
"It is important that those responsible for fire safety in high-rise buildings also have the most relevant, up-to-date information. That is why we are also publishing a single source of guidance covering general fire safety and fire-risk assessments.
Assistant chief officer Ross Haggart, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service's director of prevention and protection, said: "These leaflets and guidance documents will build on the partnership work already undertaken in Scotland since the Grenfell Tower tragedy to strengthen the safety of those living in high-rise buildings. We continue to work with our communities to ensure that everyone knows what to do in the event of an emergency.
"Our priority will always be to prevent harm in our communities and save lives and our advice is based on effective fire safety in high-rise premises.
"And while SFRS does not have legislative responsibility for the provision of fire safety measures in buildings, we will and do work with those responsible for the buildings and the tenants to ensure Scotland's high-rise premises are as safe as possible."
Publishing such guidance was one of the recommendations of the Ministerial Working Group on Building and Fire Safety.
Separately, the Fire Protection Association (FPA) has called for the government combustibility ban for buildings to be based upon risk - not just height.
The recent ban on combustible building materials by the government was for buildings over 18 metres - or six storeys high, said the national fire safety organisation.
Another body, the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) has also submitted a response to the government's Approved Document B consultation paper Sprinklers and Other Fire Safety Measures in High-rise Blocks of Flats.
NFCC champions and demands the increased use of sprinklers across the board - and has called for a lowering of the threshold for their use in high-rise blocks of flats from 11 metres (or four floors) as a minimum.
Chair of the NFCC, Roy Wilsher, said that a number of factors including new evidence, the findings of Dame Judith Hackitt's review, recent fires and government policy announcements, have made it necessary to lower the threshold.
The Fire Protection Association calls for:
1 The combustibility ban for buildings to be based upon risk rather than height alone;
2 Mandatory high-integrity alarm systems as a means for solving the false and unwanted alarms issue;
3 A requirement for two means of escape from high-rise buildings;
4 For 'stay-put' policies to be used only after thorough intrusive inspection to the building to ensure that it is capable of supporting it; and
5 The provision of sprinklers in high-risk environments such as schools and care homes to be mandatory.