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NFCC responds to Hackitt Review

02 August 2018

THE NATIONAL Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) has submitted its response following a call for views on Dame Judith Hackitt’s Independent report on Building Regulations and Fire Safety which was released in May this year.

NFCC have welcomed many of Dame Judith’s recommendations and her determination shown to fix the system. While NFCC is broadly supportive of most of the recommendations and is keen to see these acted upon, NFCC also believes there are opportunities to go further, and the sector would benefit from wider application of the proposals.

Key points raised in NFCC’s submission include:

  • Widening the definition of Higher Risk Residential Buildings (HRRBs): This is currently too narrow. The definition should maintain the current minimum 18 metres, with an aim to move toward an 11 metre limit. It should also be widened to include other buildings based on the vulnerability of occupants, such as residential care homes and specialised housing regardless of their height

  • The Government should commit to a specified time frame in which to review implementation, and extend the recommendations to other parts of the sector

  • Support for the principle of a strengthened regulator, with a developed JCA setting standards

  • The current gap between the Housing Act and Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order is one of the biggest problems in the current landscape which must be resolved, through primary regulation  

  • Competence remains one of the most important aspects across the sector and is a common thread through the majority of issues highlighted. This is key across every role and scheme

  • Support for the proposals on product testing, including a robust testing programme, better market surveillance, and greater transparency on passes and failures recorded

  • Sprinklers should be a requirement in all new builds above 18 metres and above, and retro-fitted in existing buildings 30 metres and above

NFCC would like to see further detail on the Joint Competency Authority (JCA), but believes it should be a national body with dedicated resources, setting a framework and standard for local areas. This also includes how it would offer advice on difficult cases. NFCC would like to see it becoming a body which seeks out and shares good practice, while dealing with disputes.

The appointment of a clear duty holder through the life cycle of a building is welcomed. NFCC also believes new gateway points – from initial planning through to occupation of a building -  are an essential minimum step towards a change in culture. 

There is currently a full review underway of NFCC’s own Competency Framework for Business Fire Safety Regulators. The intention is to submit this to the new Fire Standards Board, once it is established.

Chair of the NFCC Roy Wilsher, said, “The Hackitt Review and its recommendations in the main are very positive. The findings reported have the support of NFCC and we will continue to work with the relevant bodies to help inform policy development and support implementation. I would like to highlight the importance of accountable duty holders, stronger sanctions and enforcement actions, new gateway points and digital record keeping, and I am pleased to see these included.

“It is essential however that the recommendations are acted upon to ensure a safer environment for our communities, while introducing more responsibility and accountability throughout the process. In addition there are areas which do need further exploration which we have highlighted within our response. I look forward to engaging with government to explore these further and move them forward.”