Government provides welcome advice on fire safety in residential buildings

11 March 2020

The Government’s Expert Panel has now issued a consolidated advice note on fire safety following the Grenfell Tower tragedy. The note provides guidance for building owners to act on and highlights the importance of doing so promptly to ensure the safety of residents.

The new guidance consolidates the 22 Advice Notes issued in the wake of the tragedy at Grenfell Tower and provides further advice in relation to fire doors.

The guidance identifies the principal risks, mitigation and interim measures and long-term resolutions associated with ACM cladding, HPL panels, balconies, external wall insulation systems with a render or brick-slip finish, smoke control systems and fire doors.

A helpful summary is provided which details the different category of ACM cladding and HPL systems and the fire risks they pose to residential buildings. In particular, they reiterate the danger of category 3 ACM cladding, which the Government advises should be removed as soon as possible.

Building owners are ultimately responsible for the life, health and safety of occupiers and therefore owners must be proactive with fire safety measures, including ensuring that an up to date fire risk assessment is in place.

If building owners suspect that they may have category 3 ACM cladding, the Government offers a free screening programme to confirm the category of the core material. Building owners are urged to put interim measures in place whilst they are considering what further action to take based on the advice from the Expert Panel.

The note also provides some welcome clarifications in relation to fire doors. The importance of routine maintenance by a suitably qualified professional is highlighted, and the Expert Panel also recommends making the residents aware of the significant importance of a working self-closing device on all fire doors.

The advice concludes with a section devoted to interim measures which building owners should put in place pending further investigations and longer term solutions. Such measures include routine inspections and maintenance, ensuring that residents are familiar with the buildings emergency fire procedures and liaising with local fire and rescue services to ensure necessary mitigation measures are in place.

For a full copy of the guidance please see https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/building-safety-advice-for-building-owners-including-fire-doors.

Michaela Patterson Author
Michaela Patterson
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