Today, Wednesday 27 June, the RIBA will be giving evidence to the Housing, Communities and Local Government’s Select Committee’s Inquiry, in response to the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety led by Dame Judith Hackitt. The RIBA will also publish a detailed response to the Hackitt Review published in May.
RIBA Executive Director of Practice, Adrian Dobson, will be giving evidence to the Committee today.
“The RIBA welcomes a number of the Hackitt Review's findings and looks forward to working with Government and the construction industry to improve building quality and fire safety.
However, the Institute remains extremely concerned by the absence of the simple, clear baseline prescriptive standards that we have consistently maintained would deliver much-needed clarity for the construction industry and, most importantly, provide protection for the public.”
The RIBA will urge Government to ensure that guidance is absolutely clear and leave no room for ambiguity.
The RIBA Expert Group on Fire Safety, formed following the Grenfell Tower disaster, set out key recommendations for baseline prescriptive requirements:
- Non-combustible cladding - external wall construction for existing or new buildings with a storey 18m or more above ground to be comprised of non-combustible (European class A1) materials only.
- Sprinklers - retro-fitting of sprinklers / automatic fire suppression systems and centrally addressable fire alarm systems to existing residential buildings above 18m from ground, plus mandatory requirement for sprinklers/automatic fire suppression systems in all new and converted residential buildings, as already required in Wales.
- More than one means of escape - In all new multiple occupancy residential buildings, a requirement for at least two staircases, offering alternative means of escape, where the top floor is more than 11m above ground level or the top floor is more than three storeys above the ground level storey (as required for commercial buildings).
The RIBA believes that the relaxation of baseline requirements and an over reliance on unreliable processes, including desktop studies, to assess fire performance, have been key factors that have led to the regulatory and systemic failures that prompted the Independent Review.
RIBA will call on the Government today to radically overhaul the Approved Document guidance to include clear baseline prescriptive requirements for fire safety.