Fire brigade criticises construction industry over fire safety

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The London Fire Brigade (LFB) has warned there will be an increase in serious building fires unless the construction industry “starts to take fire safety more seriously”

The LFB said that “responsibility for ensuring buildings are constructed with proper fire safety measures sits with the construction industry and yet a general lack of competence means that dangerous decisions are being made about buildings’ design or construction”.

The organisation said that its fire safety experts often “face serious flaws” when they inspect buildings, including:

  • Significant construction defects – such as flawed fire walls between flats which can allow fire and smoke to spread throughout buildings.
  • Critical fire safety systems, such as mechanical smoke ventilation, were either not installed as per the original design, were poorly designed, or were not functional.
  • People in control of buildings did not understand or even know what fire safety measures were in place, let alone how best to maintain them.

The LFB made its submission to Dame Judith Hackitt’s Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety, commissioned following June’s Grenfell fire, last month.

Assistant commissioner for fire safety Dan Daly said: “It took a tragedy for everyone to take fire safety seriously and listen to what the Brigade has been saying for years about skills. Urgent action is needed to better regulate those who are responsible for ensuring a building’s design, construction and maintenance are fit for purpose.

“There are countless points where a dangerous decision can be made about a building’s design or upkeep and hardly any measures to ensure that the people making those decisions are sufficiently experienced and properly qualified.

“This means that potentially dangerous design flaws could exist within a building until we either find it at a later date, or in the worst case scenario, it is exposed by a serious fire.

“We don’t have the legal powers or the resources to check the entire fabric of a building but we often uncover dangerous flaws that we can’t ignore.”

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