Government and industry response to the Grenfell fire

Following the tragic events at Grenfell Tower in June 2017, the Government announced a series of measures and actions to prevent a similar tragedy from ever happening again.

Almost immediately, an Industry Response Group (IRG) was established to review the solutions needed to ensure building safety and that the supply chain could manage a rapid upsurge in remedial and refurbishment work following the fire. An independent Expert Advisory Panel was also set up to advise Government what urgent steps were necessary to improve fire safety. 

This Panel ordered a testing programme of materials and, based on their findings, issued advice to building owners in conjunction with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. 

Additionally, two independent investigations related to the tragedy were announced: the Grenfell Tower Public Inquiry to examine the circumstances leading up to and surrounding the fire, and the Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety which was led by led by Dame Judith Hackitt and focused particularly on higher risk residential buildings. 

The Public Inquiry is still ongoing, whilst Dame Judith’s final report Building a Safer Future (see link below) was published in May 2018. The report covers six broad areas; regulation and guidance; roles and responsibilities; competence, process, compliance and enforcement; residents’ voice and raising concerns; and quality assurance and products. It found that the current regulatory system for ensuring fire safety in high-rise and complex buildings is effectively not fit for purpose. The Conservative government has committed to implementing and legislating for all recommendations of the Hackitt Review and the first phase of independent inquiry; this will require a fundamental shift in culture which will impact greatly on the FM sector.

We are supporting the Government’s actions by providing specialist information and advice. We are also feeding into the work of the IRG, notably on the development of the competency framework and are an active participant of the Construction Industry Council, who are part of the IRG and, in turn, link in with Government. In addition, IWFM is providing the Secretariat for the IRG’s Working Group 8 which is developing competences for the Building Safety Manager - a new function proposed by Dame Hackitt’s report - who would be responsible for the day-to-day management of a building and act as a point of contact for its residents.

At international level, we are a member of the International Fire Safety Standards Coalition (IFSS) which was launched at the UN in Geneva in 2018. Currently, many different fire safety frameworks apply across the world meaning there is no single authoritative way to work. For the first time at a global collaborative level IFSS will bring greater consistency by setting landmark minimum levels of fire safety and professionalism across the world. 

IWFM’s work in this area is being informed by expert members of the Life Safety Working Group. If you have any questions on this topic please do not hesitate to email us at policy@iwfm.org.uk.

Useful links

Articles

23 April 2020 - Building safety: act now to get ready for the shape of things to come

9 April 2020 - Building a safer future: the UK Government’s vision for its building safety programme

18 March 2020 - Building safety: Government introduces new Fire Safety Bill for England and Wales  

18 February 2020 - Building safety latest: Government consulting industry on the use of combustible materials

29 January 2020 - Building safety update: new legislation; government’s response to Grenfell Inquiry Phase 1