A call for action over building safety
In a recent letter sent to the Prime Minister by the
RCIMAG.COM MAY 2018 005
Mineral Wool Manufacturers Association, leading
fi re safety experts and advocates have urged the
government to implement immediately three
important regulatory steps that will signifi cantly
improve fi re safety for high-rise and high-risk buildings,
such as schools, hospitals and care homes.
For these types of buildings, the fi re safety experts
have urged the government to require that only noncombustible
cladding and insulation is installed; they
are fi tted with automatic fi re sprinklers; and they have
alternative escape routes in place.
While the signatories, ranging from architects,
industry advisory groups and associations, and
professors, acknowledge offi cial reviews are
underway, they argue that ten months on from the
Grenfell Tower fi re, the UK is no closer to a safer
system of fi re safety regulation.
According to those behind the letter, the three
steps mentioned above would substantially reduce
the risk still facing many buildings in the UK, and
reassure the families and individuals living and
working in high risk buildings.
Speaking on page 6, architect George Clarke, said:
“The rules for how we build safe homes, offi ces, schools
and hospitals have for many years been far too open to
interpretation. This has led to poor design decisions that
have compromised fi re safety and put lives at risk. What
we are arguing for could be implemented tomorrow,
would be extremely effective in making buildings
safer, and help prevent a tragedy such as Grenfell ever
Meanwhile, Richard Hull, Professor of Chemistry
and Fire Science at University of Central Lancashire,
added: “Grenfell has left no doubt about the dangers
of combustible facades on tall buildings. The recent
Association of British Insurers report shows the
problems with the current testing regime. Until they are
resolved, we cannot endanger more people by allowing
combustible materials to be put on the outside of highrise
and high-risk buildings.”
Interestingly, fi gures released by the Ministry of
Housing, Communities and Local Government this
month, have revealed that across the country there
are currently at the time of going to press 297 tower
blocks over 18 metres high with similar cladding to that
used at Grenfell.
Since March this year, no additional social tower
blocks have had Grenfell-style cladding replaced, and
only seven have had the unsafe cladding fully replaced.
This equates to only 4% of social tower blocks affected
– and 151 of these are social housing buildings. At the
social high-rise blocks affected, 34% of the buildings
surveyed have not had work carried out to remove or
replace the unsafe cladding.
Elsewhere in this issue, we hear from Vivalda
Group on page 38, who is optimistic about the changes
that the anticipated report from Dame Judith Hackitt
could bring about in the sector. Read on for all the
latest news and views.
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