Shortly before Christmas, Dame Judith Hackitt published an interim report of her review of building regulations and fire safety. The 118 page report largely focusses on the process by which fire safety is assured in buildings. Dame Hackitt has criticised the lack of clear accountability for fire safety in new buildings, the failure to upgrade safety in existing buildings, that those designing and installing fire safety need no qualifications, and the potential for unscrupulous people to cut corners when it comes to fire safety in buildings.
Regarding sprinklers she said, “There needs to be a demonstration that there are sufficient layers of protection to ensure that building safety does not rely heavily on compartmentation. There is a high risk of compartmentation being breached during use, whether as the result of residents’ own actions or of maintenance work carried out in the whole building. There are a range of fire protection measures that can be retrofitted to or amended to in existing buidings; for example, extra staircases and smoke ventilation or sprinkler systems.”
All her recommmendations in the interim report concern process; she has not yet made any recommendations for changes to the fire safety guidance in Approved Document B, which is the deemed to satisfy regulatory guidance for England. She will publish a final report in 2018, which we anticipate will include some recommendations for changes to Approved Document B.