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Manufacturers’ viewpoint

15 March 2018

Fire Industry Association (FIA) chief executive Ian Moore discusses the Association’s involvement in the independent Building Regulations review.

Fire safety has changed in recent times more so than any other period in my lifetime mainly because of major fires such as Grenfell Tower or the Address Hotel fire in Dubai. Cladding fires are now recognised as a serious risk and it’s now pubic discussion about the importance of safety for the outside of buildings.

One of the impact of tragedies such as Grenfell Tower is that interest in fire safety has exponentially grown and eople are now looking for more professional and competent fire safety advice. Competence is a word I’ve brought up in this column before and we are now finding ourselves in the situation where people are no longer asking about contractor competence, rather they are demanding it. The FIA now needs to find ways that we can define competence and we have always tried to set the bar for competency. 

Within FIA’s ranks we have some renowned experts who have expertise across all fire safety issues. We have been delighted to have been able to feed information into the independent review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety, which is being led by Dame Judith Hackitt. I personally feel Dame Judith’s interim report is solid and it contains nothing that’s particularly shocking and I’d say the content is very logical. The concern remains about how the government will respond and put the advice of the report into place. 

I think the general feeling about if the Building Regulations are fit for purpose is split. There aren’t fundamental changes needed as the UK is a very safe place with relatively few major fires. Although there are many fires in tall buildings, they are mostly dealt with effectively without major damage or injuries. It’s only when a once in a lifetime tragedy such as the Grenfell Tower fire comes along that the regulations come under the spotlight again. 

Sadly, sometimes it takes a tragedy for us to realise we don’t have the perfect solution. Unfortunately, it’s often not seen as commercially viable to have a completely fire safe building at this moment in time. The report is good and will shake a few things up and we are still adding further comments to the independent report and the FIA is trying to be very active with our participation. 

Ian Moore is chief executive of the Fire Industry Association. For more information, visit www.fia.uk.com