Government issues guidance to support fire reform agenda

Government issues guidance to support fire reform agenda

The Grenfell Tower Inquiry in the Phase 1 report noted that “Fire doors play an essential role in preventing or inhibiting the spread of smoke and toxic gases and in preserving the effective compartmentation of buildings.” The Inquiry noted that the fire doors in Grenfell Tower did not, through damage and/or disrepair, act in the way that they should so that they prevent smoke and gases from spreading. The Inquiry recommended (Recommendations 33.29 (a) and (b)) that the owner and manager of every residential building containing separate dwellings carry out an urgent inspection of all fire doors to ensure compliance with current legislative standards and that regular (no less than every three months) checks be carried out to ensure all fire doors are fitted with an effective self-closing device which is in working order. In addition, the Inquiry recommended (Recommendation 33.30) that all those who have responsibility for the condition of the entrance doors to individual flats in high-rise residential buildings (with unsafe cladding) be required by law to ensure these doors comply with current standards.

Prior to the Fire Safety Act 2021, flat entrance doors in multi-occupied residential buildings may not have been routinely considered as part of the fire risk assessment process. The Fire Safety Act 2021 has removed the legal ambiguity and confirms that flat entrance doors are in scope of the Fire Safety Order.

The Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 will make it a legal requirement from 23 January 2023 for responsible persons for all multi-occupied residential buildings in England with storeys over 11 metres in height to:

  • Undertake quarterly checks of all fire doors (including self-closing devices) in the common parts; and,
  • Undertake – on a best endeavour basis – annual checks of all flat entrance doors (including self-closing devices) that lead onto a building’s common parts.

The regulations will also require responsible persons to provide to residents of all multi-occupied residential buildings with two or more sets of domestic premises (that have common parts) information on the importance of fire doors to a building’s fire safety.

 

 

 

Competence Framework – installer pilot report published

Competence Framework – installer pilot report published

Building Safety – First stage complete in journey towards fully competent installer workforce

The construction and built environment sector must maintain momentum to ensure the competence of installation organisations and employees as a key report highlights ‘red flags’ amid wider progress on Building Safety.

A report has been published setting out the current state of competence arrangements for those installing products and systems in buildings. Prepared by members of Working Group 2, which was set up as part of the post-Grenfell Competence Steering Group, volunteers from Working Group 2 have worked with six pilot installer sectors – Dry Lining, Domestic Plumbing and Heating, Fire Detection and Alarms, Fire Stopping Specialist, Rainscreen Cladding, and Roofing – to benchmark existing competence arrangements.

This Pilot – Phase One stage sets a baseline to identify shortfalls and considers the changes needed to create competence frameworks that comply with the recommendations of Setting the Bar. In 2020, Setting the Bar outlined how industry must improve the competence of those procuring, designing, constructing, inspecting, assessing, managing, installing and maintaining higher risk residential buildings.

The report recognises that good practice exists in each of the six sectors that allows them to demonstrate elements of competence. Yet there are elements of each sectors’ arrangements that the working group has red rated, showing that significant work is required to meet the requirements of Setting the Bar.

Each sector will now move to develop sector-specific competence frameworks that play to existing strengths and close off any red flag issues raised in the report. This process – which will also develop a timeline and implementation plan for each sector – is expected to take six to nine months.

The report also calls on other installer sectors to begin their own competence journey now, offering guidance to help them do so which Working Group 2 has developed during the pilots.

Iain McIlwee, FIS Chief Executive who was a participant in the Dry Lining pilot, said:

“FIS has taken an active role in this work and will continue to work with our members and the wider sector to ensure that competency is understood, the support mechanisms needed to deliver a competent workforce are in place and that we are able to track, manage and reward competence effectively.  We have championed and led the Dry Lining work because it is an important part of most building operations, it is a labour intensive process and frankly has been hugely undervalued in the construction process.  This work is the building block, a  fresh start not only to delivering a better competency framework, but helping to raise the profile and change expectations about the vital work that dry liners do.  We do not underestimate the enormity of this task given the current socioeconomic backdrop, but do recognise that it is essential work that we must take on together.”

Mark Reynolds, Sponsor for the CLC’s People and Skills Network, said:

“Publication of Working Group 2’s latest report marks an important milestone in progress towards improved standards of installer competence in the built environment. The CLC will continue to do all we can to assist with the pilots and I would urge other installer sectors now to embark on their own competence journeys, drawing on the resources which Working Group 2 has provided.”

Nick Jarman, Chair of Working Group 2, said:

“There has been much collaboration since the formation of Working Group 2, focussed on how we can learn from the lessons of the past and forge a new pathway of improvement for the future with the objective of providing a safer built environment overall. I would like to thank sector representatives and my Working Group 2 colleagues for getting the pilot process to the point this report can be published. Working Group 2 looks forward to further engagement and collaboration with the wider installer sector to continue progress on this crucial workstream.”

Building Safety Act published

Building Safety Act published

After receiving Royal Assent on 28 April 2022 the Building Safety Bill is now available for scrutiny.

FIS will continue to look at how the Bill will impact our community and will keep members up-to-date with developments. We have prepared an initial summary of the key implications that you can access here.

 FIS is committed to supporting our members with compliance and ensuring the Bill supports a better safety and a more collaborative approach to procurement.

Read the Building Safety Act 2022 in full here

Changing legislation in Scotland

Changing legislation in Scotland

Developers in Scotland will be banned from using combustible cladding on high‐rise buildings from 1 June, following the introduction of new building standards legislation. Since 2005, new cladding systems on high‐rise blocks of flats have either had to use non‐combustible materials or pass a large‐scale fire test. However, the new legislation removes the option of the fire test, prohibiting such materials from being used on domestic and other high‐risk buildings above 11 metres. The highest risk metal composite cladding material will be banned from all new buildings whatever their height, with replacement cladding also required to meet the new standards.

FIS has reviewed the proposals and note that Cavity Trays that caused some disruption in England and Wales are in the list of exemptions and consistent with the work we did with Scottish Government on buildings greater than 18 m.

Scottish Procurement Policy Note (SPPN) 02/2022 will also be introduced from 1 June, which sets out how public sector bodies are to embed prompt payment performance in the supply chain through procurement processes. Suppliers will have to pay 95% of valid invoices on time, or provide an improvement plan, otherwise they will not be selected to bid.

Building Safety Bill has now become law

Building Safety Bill has now become law

The Bill received Royal Assent on 28 April 2022. FIS will continue looking at how the Bill will impact our community and will keep members up-to-date with developments.

This is without doubt the biggest shake-up of Building Regulations since they were introduced in 1666, placing new demands on competence in the workforce, product selection and documenting process (e.g. digital record keeping) on all in the supply chain.

FIS is committed to supporting our members with compliance and ensuring the Bill supports a better safety and a more collaborative approach to procurement.

This is a landmark day for construction and we have prepared an initial summary of the key implications that you can access below

Parliament discuss use of retentions in construction

Parliament discuss use of retentions in construction

In light of recent Parliamentary discussions on the use of retentions in construction, Build UK, of which FIS is a member, along with other members of the CLC met with Construction Minister Lee Rowley to discuss how the Government and industry can work together on this issue, building on the work previously undertaken by Build UK through its Roadmap to Zero Retentions.

With any legislation on retentions unlikely during this Parliament, Build UK will be reviewing the milestones in its roadmap over the coming months, including the Minimum Standards on Retentions and the table of public sector retention policies.

Dame Judith Hackitt has also made the case for removing retentions, stating that they are ‘totally inconsistent with collaborative procurement’. Speaking earlier this month at the launch of the Guidance on Collaborative Procurement for Design and Construction to Support Building Safety, she outlined how “suppliers assume they will never receive their retention payments…so therefore from the outset of projects with retentions involved they are looking for other ways to cut costs, cut corners and save money in whatever way possible”.