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Statement on Design for Fire Safety - Follow-up information for members in Wales

This statement, provided by the RSAW, gives additional information regarding the Welsh context around designing for fire safety and builds upon the RIBA statement issued following the devastating and tragic fire at Grenfell Tower. Topics covered include the matter of devolved Building Regulations and the Welsh Government's official response to the fire in West London.

03 July 2017

RIBA President Jane Duncan yesterday circulated a statement and briefing paper for RIBA members in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire. Click here to read the full statement

A small panel of experts is working with Jane Duncan and they will issue further information and guidance as it becomes available.

RIBA members working in Wales will be aware that Building Regulations are a devolved matter; Approved Document B volumes 1 and 2 differ from the English versions and can be accessed via these links:

On 20 June Carl Sargeant, Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Children, announced he is setting up an expert group to examine all of the lessons coming out of the Grenfell Tower tragedy, and their application to Wales. The Royal Society of Architects in Wales has welcomed the Welsh Government’s swift action in setting up urgent discussions with all residential social landlords in Wales, a process which has now been completed.

In his statement, Carl Sargeant said:

'Between all residential social landlords in Wales, they own 36 blocks of flats of seven or more storeys.

'Social landlords have told us none of those appear to have been fitted with the type of cladding used in the Grenfell Tower. Seven blocks in Wales have been retro-fitted with sprinklers – and of course where any new or converted blocks are developed here, under the changes introduced as part of the Domestic Fire Safety Measure (Wales) 2011, they would be required to include sprinklers. The requirements were introduced for flats and houses on 1 January 2016.

'Installing sprinklers in new housing and as part of refurbishment programmes, which some Welsh councils and housing associations have already done, will go a long way towards minimising the risk of death and injury from fire.'

Click here to read Carl Sargeant’s full statement.

In addition, The Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee will hold a one-day National Assembly inquiry on Thursday 13 July in response to the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

Fire safety in high rise tower blocks, safety requirements, guidance to residents and the current regulations in Wales will be on the agenda.

Committee Chair John Griffiths AM said:

'We all watched in horror last week as the terrible events in Grenfell Tower unfolded, and I want to get reassurances that all necessary safeguards are in place to prevent such a tragedy in Wales.

'We hope to hear from those responsible in local government, housing associations, and fire and rescue services in Wales. We will then follow up any issues with the Welsh Government.

'We want to ask the questions that people living in tower blocks in Wales are asking, and we will be inviting tenants groups to speak to us. We want to receive assurances that where residents have concerns, they are being listened to and addressed.'

RSAW has formally asked the Welsh Government to confirm what action is being considered for properties in the private sector, in particular in relation to flats managed by private landlords or in individual ownership, student accommodation or hotel buildings in Wales that might now be considered vulnerable. We will keep members informed of the response.

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