The publication yesterday of Dame Judith Hackitt’s Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety, confirming that landlords and building managers will be held accountable by a new ‘joint competent authority’ (JCA) that will oversee safety within multi-occupancy higher-risk residential buildings, has been welcomed as a “step in the right direction” by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH).
The review, which was undertaken in response to the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower last year, examined building and fire safety regulations and related compliance and enforcement, with a focus on high rise residential buildings.
The final report sets out over 50 recommendations for government as to how to deliver a more robust regulatory system for the future, and that includes the introduction of the JCA, which would comprise the combined expertise and knowledge of Local Authority Building Standards and fire and rescue authorities (FRAs) and Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
The bodies would not be merged but those organisations would provide them with a framework to work from to better assess building safety and create “a more unified and consistent intervention process”.
Tamara Sandoul, housing policy manager at CIEH, commented: “We strongly welcome the final report and look to the government to take action quickly in order to make high rise buildings safe places to live in and to reassure occupants that they are well protected from danger.
“First and foremost, all homes should be safe and healthy places to live and everyone needs to have confidence in the way in which their building is being managed.
“We are delighted that the final report acknowledges the need to tackle fire safety in other types of multi-occupied buildings – such as large houses badly converted into flats. We shouldn’t ignore issues with fire safety, whether the building is above or below 18 metres. We would like the Government to further clarify responsibility and enforcement of fire safety within these types of buildings.
“Considering the breadth of this report, we now call on the government to set up the JCA as a priority so it can look in detail at vital issues such as cladding, sprinklers, and fire escapes.”