Fire Safety Review document makes landlords accountable

Following the tragedy at Grenfell Tower last year, it is no surprise that a review of the Building Regulations and Fire Safety Report has been published.

The document, which inspected building and fire safety regulations, compliance and enforcement in high rise residential buildings, has revealed that both landlords and building managers will now be held accountable by a ‘joint competent authority’ (JCA) that is due to be introduced.

The document has been designed to oversee safety in multi-occupancy, high-risk residential buildings, and has been welcomed as a ‘step in the right direction’ by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health.

The document contain over 50 recommendations for the Government, suggesting a series of improvements to the current regulatory system, including the introduction of the JCA. The authority is recommended to include representation from fire and rescue authorities, Local Authority Building Standards departments, and the Health and Safety Executive, which, the document recommends, will give a full overview of safety practices.

We strongly welcome the final report and look to the government to take action quickly in order to make high rise buildings safe places to live in and to reassure occupants that they are well protected from danger. First and foremost, all homes should be safe and healthy places to live and everyone needs to have confidence in the way in which their building is being managed. We are delighted that the final report acknowledges the need to tackle fire safety in other types of multi-occupied buildings – such as large houses badly converted into flats. We shouldn’t ignore issues with fire safety, whether the building is above or below 18 metres. We would like the Government to further clarify responsibility and enforcement of fire safety within these types of buildings. Considering the breadth of this report, we now call on the government to set up the JCA as a priority so it can look in detail at vital issues such as cladding, sprinklers, and fire escapes.

Tamara Sandoul, housing policy manager at the Charted Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH)

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