The National Assembly for Wales Publishes Report on Fire Safety in High-Rise Buildings

11th December 2018

The National Assembly for Wales’ Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee has recently published a report calling for urgent action, including the introduction of a new law, to reduce the risk from fires in high-rise residential blocks.

The Committee wants the Welsh Government to quickly introduce legislation which would place minimum requirements on fire risk assessors and bring front doors of flats within the regulatory responsibility of fire and rescue services.

However, Assembly Members were informed that following the tragedy at Grenfell Tower, all buildings in Wales with aluminium cladding, similar to that which contributed to the Grenfell Tower fire, had been identified.

John Griffiths, Assembly Member (AM), Chair of the Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee said “People need to feel safe in their homes, and that the building and the fittings, particularly in high rise blocks, are of the highest standard.  This Committee wants to see further urgent action from the Welsh Government and believes legislation should be brought forward as soon as possible which would tighten up standards around important safety measures such as fire doors and minimum requirements for those undertaking fire risk assessments”.

Mr Griffiths went on to say, “We were also struck by the apparent differences between buildings on paper and what is actually built and would urge the Welsh Government to examine ways of involving fire and rescue services much earlier on in the process of building high-rise buildings to avoid unforeseen problems.”

The Committee makes 14 recommendations in its report, including:

  • That the Welsh Government brings forward new legislation to replace the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 in the current Assembly term, which should be prioritised as part of the roadmap the Building Safety Expert Group is preparing. The new legislation should include:  standards for persons undertaking fire risk assessments; a requirement for fire risk assessments to be undertaken as a minimum annually for high rise residential buildings and, clarification that fire doors which act as the front doors to flats are considered part of the communal areas and therefore covered by the legislation replacing the Fire Safety Order 2005.
  • That the Welsh Government explores the feasibility of ensuring invasive level four surveys for all high-rise residential buildings. This should include the impact on fire and rescue services’ capacity, levels of skills and expertise needed and the lifting of any legislative restrictions.
  • That the Welsh Government consider how the planning and building regulation process can be revised to ensure the Fire and Rescue Services are included much earlier in the process so that their fire safety expertise can be utilised to ensure high rise residential buildings can adequately resist fire.

For a copy of the full report please click here.

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