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DLUHC charts progress made against Grenfell Tower Inquiry Phase 1 recommendations

06 December 2022

THE DEPARTMENT for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has just issued a detailed document that provides an update on the progress made to date on implementing the recommendations outlined within the Grenfell Tower Inquiry Phase 1 report. It includes updates from the relevant Government departments and assurances received from relevant public authorities – among them the London Fire Brigade, the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) and other Emergency Services – on their progress to address and implement the Phase 1 recommendations directed to them.

The update, and the Government’s commitment to update on this issue on a regular basis, brings considerable transparency to what is a vitally important area of work. An accessible version of this latest update can also be found on the Fire England website at fireengland.uk It’s important to note that this document does not reflect finalised Government policy.

In point of fact, this is the fifth thematic update on the progress that has been made to implement the recommendations from the Grenfell Tower Inquiry Phase 1 report. This update includes information on improvements to cross-cutting Fire and Rescue Service communications, significantly improving collaboration in major and critical incidents, and known as Operation Willow Beck. Launched as a direct result of the Phase 1 recommendations, Operation Willow Beck was successfully used for the first time during the heatwaves in the summer of 2022.

Commencement of regulation

A major part of the Government’s response to the recommendations is the commencement of the Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022, which come into force in January next year. Draft guidance is being developed with experts to support the recommendations and will be published ahead of the commencement date.

For their part, Fire and Rescue Services are developing templates to support the information sharing duties outlined in the Fire Safety (England) Regulations, while specific guidance on fire door safety checks will be made available in the early part of the New Year.

This latest update also includes information on the Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans consultation and the further consultation on Emergency Evacuation Information Sharing Plus, which closed in August.

On 1 June 2022, the Government added a further update to Approved Document B such that new residential developments over 18 metres in height will have to incorporate evacuation alert systems.

National progress

Fire and Rescue Services across England continue to work hard on implementing the recommendations, prioritised according to local risk profiles.

The NFCC conducted its bi-annual self-reported survey in August structured to ask if a policy or process has been updated, and to identify if a given Fire and Rescue Service has trained and implemented a change effectively. Survey results indicate that 95% of Fire and Rescue Services will have completed their action plans to address the recommendations by March 2023.

Circa 72% of Fire and Rescue Services have updated their policies, while 67% of them have now involved all relevant staff in exercises involving the evacuation of a high-rise residential building.

Additionally, the NFCC has produced the first suite of National Fire Control Guidance as a result of the funding provided by the Home Office following the Grenfell Tower fire. The work began before the recommendations were made in the wake of the fire as a result of early engagement with the London Fire Brigade. This has produced “multiple benefits” including the production of new guidance and technical solutions. This represents a “significant improvement” for the sector and, in tandem, speaks to the commitment of the NFCC and the Government to the Fire Control Room.

Encompassed here is the introduction of new talk groups to allow Fire and Rescue Services to share information live between Fire Control Rooms to ensure the information provided by anyone handling a call – wherever in the country the call may be received – duly reflects the current state of the fire. 98% of Fire Control Rooms have now embedded these talk groups.

London Fire Brigade

Currently, the London Fire Brigade reports to the Home Office and the Mayor of London on the 40 recommendations that require some action by the Brigade, which include 29 recommendations directed specifically at the Brigade, all Fire and Rescue Services or the Emergency Services, and 11 recommendations directed at partner agencies/other organisations which also require some action on the part of the London Fire Brigade.

As things stand, the London Fire Brigade has completed 26 of the 29 recommendations directed specifically at the organisation, all Fire and Rescue Servies or Emergency Services and three of the 11 recommendations directed at partner agencies/other organisations. This makes for a total of 29 recommendations having been completed out of the overall 40.

Summary of progress

Of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry’s 46 Phase 1 recommendations, 31 have now been completed.

Of the 14 recommendations directed to the London Fire Brigade, 13 have been completed. Additionally, the Brigade is required to address a further nine recommendations which apply to all Fire and Rescue Services, of which they have completed eight. Out of the six recommendations made to the Emergency services more broadly, the London Fire Brigade has completed five. Overall, the Brigade has completed 26 out of 29 recommendations given to the organisation.

According to the NFCC survey, one out of the nine recommendations that were given to all Fire and Rescue Services has been completed in its entirety. Two Fire and Rescue Services have implemented all recommendations in full.

Out of the six recommendations given to the Emergency Services, five have been completed.

One recommendation was given to the Metropolitan Police Service and the London Ambulance Service. This has been completed. One recommendation was given to the National Police Air Service, which has also been completed.

Recommendations directed to Government

Ten of the recommendations directed to Government have been completed with the successful laying, and passage through Parliamentary, of the Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022. These deliver important fire safety improvements by placing additional duties on ‘Responsible Persons’ to, for example, make regular checks of fire doors and key firefighting equipment and share key fire safety information, including building plans, with the Fire and Rescue Services.

Five recommendations relating to evacuation remain in progress. Three of these, relating specifically to Evacuation Plans and to Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans, were addressed in the recent Emergency Evacuation Information Sharing Plus consultation. Government is currently considering the responses to that consultation.

Live testing data on building evacuation collected in a research project, which is currently being analysed, is intended to inform national guidelines for the Fire and Rescue Service to evacuate high-rise residential buildings, which is a fourth evacuation recommendation.

The fifth evacuation recommendation (on evacuation alert systems) has been addressed for new buildings through amendment to the guidance to the Building Regulations (ie Approved Document B) and remains under consideration for existing buildings.

*Additional information and detail is available on GOV.UK