Dame Judith Hackitt has now published her final report on fire safety, and the Government has set out its response. In this update, HFC considers the findings and their implications. Members of HFC and the FMKx can access a discounted offer to support effective assessment from leading edge Fire Safety experts NuLogic

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The Hackitt Report

Last year, Dame Judith Hackitt was asked by the Government to carry out an independent review of building regulations and fire safety. Although the review was clearly linked to concerns about high-rise buildings, its findings and recommendations have implications for the industry more widely.

In her interim report in December 2017, Dame Judith made her disquiet about safety in the construction industry quite clear and emphasised the need for reform. You can read her interim report by clicking here.

You can read her final report by clicking here. She concluded that regulations and guidance were too complex and unclear, which could cause confusion and differences in their interpretation. The Report describes a new system for both new and existing buildings – including a core requirement for the construction industry to provider greater leadership and take greater responsibility for the delivery of safe buildings, rather than looking to others to tell them what is or is not acceptable. This issue about lack of ownership and accountability was one of Dame Judith’s key concerns and this is reflected in the findings and recommendations.

The Report makes clear that change will not be brought about by amendments or more rules – instead, the root causes need to be addressed and a new culture put in place. This culture needs to cover the whole life cycle of a high-rise building - from design to construction to ownership and on-going management.
The Report’s recommendations include the need for:

  • An outcomes-based approach to the regulatory framework to be overseen by a new regulator that can drive the right behaviours
  • Clearer roles and responsibilities throughout the design and construction process and during occupation
  • A more rigorous and transparent product testing regime
  • A more responsible marketing regime
  • Industry to lead on strengthening competence of all those involved in building work, and the establishment of a body to provide oversight
  • A more collaborative approach, bringing together Government, industry and the community.

It concludes by calling on Government to set out a clear plan that would enable the implementation of the Report’s findings and recommendations, including a call for industry and regulators to start ‘living’ the changes now.

The Government’s Response

The Government has welcomed the Report, and made a range of commitments, some of which are specifically focused on high-rise residential buildings. However, although the genesis of the Report stems from specific issues about high-rise residential buildings, it is clear that the approach could drive change across the construction and maintenance industries. Government commitments include changing the law to help bring about sustained reform of the system for building regulation – and including stronger sanctions for failure to comply.

What it means for the NHS: the Responsible Person

Fire safety has long been a major issue and priority in healthcare, reinforced by the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (RRO). This makes it clear that there are significant responsibilities for anyone who has control of premises or anyone who has a degree of control over certain areas or systems - the ‘Responsible Person’. The Responsible Person must as far as is reasonably practical make sure that everyone on the premises, or nearby, can escape safely if there is a fire.

If you are the Responsible Person, you must make sure you carry out a fire risk assessment although you can pass this task to some other “Competent Person”. However, you will still be responsible, in law, for meeting the requirements of the Order: if a ‘Competent Person’ is engaged the Responsible Person must ensure they are adequately skilled and with sufficient knowledge and experience to conduct such assessments.

Failure to execute an appropriate risk assessment could result in the enforcing authorities acting against the Responsible Person, which in severe cases could result in a custodial sentence.

It’s therefore clear that it is key that the risk assessment should be done well. Simply ticking the boxes to say a survey has been carried out isn’t sufficient: properly qualified, experienced assessors should be used to ensure the most comprehensive outcome at all times. If they are not, then the Responsible Person is not discharging their duties adequately – and they are also running the risk of a fire and all its severe consequences.

Discount offer – Fire Risk Assessment (FRA)

HFC has joined with one of the leading companies in FRA to make it easier for the NHS to address fire safety.

Nulogic Fire Limited have worked in the public sector delivering compliant FRA and fire safety service for over ten years and have completed well over 22,000 assessments for clients. They have won several quality awards for their work, utilising the skills and experience of their Technical Director, who was one of the architects of the 2005 Regulatory Reform Order (Fire Safety). They utilise their own software product: ATK (Assessment Tool Kit), which is a sophisticated cloud based compliance platform for managing portfolios of assets – and it’s suited to all organisations that need to assess risk in order to meet compliance requirements.

Quick access to these critical services is important: Nulogic Fire has been awarded positions on a number of procurement frameworks, enabling NHS clients to procure their services whilst complying with standing financial instructions. Ask us for details.

Nulogic Fire offer two options:

Client Managed: for those who carry out their own assessment but want high quality tools to assess and manage their data.

Fully Managed: for clients that want to have a hands off approach to the day to day FRA programme support, so that they can focus their time on tackling the actions identified through the FRA.

Nulogic offers Members of HFC a discount on their FRA service, so if you have any concerns about compliance or the cost of achieving it safely contact us as soon as possible.

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