Two years after the Grenfell disaster just over a quarter of high-risk high-rise residential buildings have been remediated (42 out of 158). London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton is urging the government to prioritise urgent action as thousands of residents are still living in buildings cladded with flammable materials.
At present, ‘waking watches’ are put in place in buildings with flammable cladding. These are 24/7 watchmen whose job it is to be alert for any compromise in safety. They are, of course, necessary at present but mustn’t be seen as a long-term alternative to remediation work.
In addition to removing flammable cladding from existing buildings, installing sprinkler systems into high-rise residential buildings should be commonplace. Unfortunately, developers often ignore the advice of fire and rescue services and choose not to install them in new developments.
Following on from Dame Judith Hackitt’s review and the ensuing government consultation in June/July 2019, the government is now urged to put legislation in place to make high-rise residential buildings safer to live in.
Local officials are approaching government to improve building safety
Throughout this year (2019) open letters have been sent to the government in this respect. The deputy mayor for fire and resilience of London, Fiona Twycross (May 2019), the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan (July 2019) as well as leading council figures from around England (March 2019) have urged the government to implement stricter fire regulations.
These considerations should, of course, not only apply to high-rise residential buildings but any other buildings where vulnerable people are housed such as care homes, schools and sheltered accommodations. In his letter, Sadiq Khan talks about “a specific policy that requires all development proposals to achieve the highest standards of fire safety and it encourages the use of automatic fire suppression systems, such as sprinklers”.
We live in times of austerity and budget cuts are commonplace but that should not come at the expense of saving lives. People have a right to feel safe in their own homes. This means that spending money on removing dangerous building materials, retrofitting existing buildings with sprinkler systems and ensuring their installation in new builds needs to go to the top of the priority list.
This blog post is based on the article “LFB urges government to prioritise building safety” by Fire & Security Matters.
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