The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has responded to the government’s statement on the banning of combustible materials in the external walls of high-rise residential buildings.
Earlier this year, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) launched a consultation on the banning of combustible materials following Dame Judith Hackitt’s Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety. The RIBA's detailed consultation response stressed that restricting combustible materials is vital to ensure that our buildings are safe and fit for the future.
The government's statement includes the RIBA's recommendations to include other high-risk building types and restrict products on buildings above 18m, although hotels, hostels and commercial buildings are currently exempt from the ban.
The RIBA welcomes the restriction on products meeting European Class A1 or A2-s1, d0 (i.e. A2 products with very limited amount of combustion gases and no burning droplets or particles).
The government has not yet concluded whether they will consider the Institute’s recommendations on sprinklers and alternative means of escape as part of a further, in-depth review of Approved Document B.
Jane Duncan, Chair of the RIBA’s Expert Advisory Group on Fire Safety says:
“The legislation laid out today is a welcome outcome from a lengthy consultation. It is of the utmost importance that we get this right – for the victims of such a devastating tragedy and for the future safety of our homes.
"I am pleased that the government have taken recommendations on board and broadened the cladding ban to include other high-risk buildings such as hospitals, residential accommodation and care homes. We would like to see other high-risk buildings included, such as hotels and hostels, which are specifically exempted from the legislation. The technical intricacies of the cladding ban might have left room for flammable products to still be deemed acceptable, I therefore welcome the fire ratings proposal for A1 and A2-s1, d0 products which we believe align with our research.
There is still more to do to ensure that buildings are as safe as possible. The government should address the RIBA’s recommendations on sprinklers, alarm systems and alternative means of escape in all residential high-rise buildings; and we urge them to commit to a thorough review of Approved Document B.”
*To ensure clarity is provided to the industry the RIBA recommends that the ban should apply to plasterboard, sheathing boards, insulation, spandrel panels, outermost cladding products and large systems that protrude from the buildings walls such as balconies and briese soleil only. The European Classification A1 should be used rather than A2 (with the exception of plasterboard) for these products, to protect against production of smoke and flaming particles/droplets. Following the government announcement to apply a ban using the lower classification (A2), the RIBA recommends that this be strictly limited to A2-s1, d0. This would ensure very limited smoke production and no flaming particles/droplets from permitted products. See the RIBA consultation response for more information.
Notes to editors:
1. For further press information contact Abigail.Chiswell-White@riba.org 020 7307 3811
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