The Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee has issued its report on building regulations and fire safety. Having taken evidence from industry and fire safety experts, the Committee endorses government’s intention to ban the use of combustible materials in the external walls of high-rise residential buildings in England.
The Committee says the ban on combustible materials must also apply to existing as well as new buildings and to high-risk buildings such as residential homes, hospitals, hotels, and student accommodations. If adopted, these recommendations would significantly strengthen fire safety in a wider range of buildings than is currently envisioned in the government’s proposed ban.
Responding to the Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety: Next Steps report, Lord Porter, Local Government Association Chairman, said: “The tragedy that unfolded at Grenfell Tower must never be allowed to happen again and we must ensure that those who live, work and visit high-rise and high-risk buildings are safe.
“There is increasing evidence that the BS8414 test — which tests the fire performance of external cladding and insulation systems — cannot be relied upon. Flaws with the testing process have been exposed time and again since the Grenfell Tower fire.
“The evidence from real fires in real tower blocks shows that using combustible materials on the external walls of high-rise buildings kills people. We continue to strongly urge the Government to ban the use of any combustible materials — including cladding panels, insulation and other materials — on the external walls of high-rise and high-risk buildings.
“It is wrong for anyone to argue that it might be more appropriate for the ban on combustible materials to focus on banning some combustible cladding panels while allowing the continued use of other combustible materials in cladding systems.”
The National Housing Federation is working with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) on an early adopter scheme to test out the recommendations. MHCLG has asked L&Q and Salix to be the first two early adopters to test these recommendations.
The Government has also launched a consultation on clarifying key fire safety guidance, Approved Document B. This consultation runs until 11 October .
Rockwool’s Mirella Vitale commented: “We have long advocated for the Government to require the use of non-combustible insulation and cladding on high-rise and high-risk buildings. The Government’s proposed ban on combustible materials for high-rise residential buildings would go a long way toward achieving that objective, and we are extremely encouraged by the Committee’s recommendation to go further by covering a wider range of high-rise and high-risk buildings.
“These are crucial steps in ensuring public safety, and we urge the Government to adopt the Committee’s recommendations without delay.”