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Fire and rescue services: knowledge and understanding of materials used in high-rise buildings

Theme 1

Fire and rescue services: knowledge and understanding of materials used in high-rise buildings

Last updated: 29 July 2021

Recommendation

33.10a

That the owner and manager of every high-rise residential building be required by law to provide their local fire and rescue service with information about the design of its external walls together with details of the materials of which they are constructed and to inform the fire and rescue service of any material changes made to them.

Progress date:

Autumn 2021

Responsible for completion:

  • Government

Progress

Status

In progress

The Government has consulted on proposals to require Responsible Persons (RPs), including building owners / managers, to provide their local fire and rescue services with information about the design of the building’s external walls and details of the materials they are constructed from, as well as any material changes made. The Government's proposals go further than the Inquiry’s recommendation by requiring that RPs also provide information relating to the level of risk arising from the design and materials of the external wall structure and the associated mitigating steps that have been taken. The Fire Safety Act, that achieved Royal Assent on 29 April 2021, clarifies the scope of the Fire Safety Order as including the external walls (including cladding and balconies) and flat entrance doors for premises containing two or more sets of domestic premises. 

The Government published its response to its consultation on the measures on 17 March 2021 (link).

The Government intends to make regulations under Article 24 of the Fire Safety Order to implement these recommendations. The Government intends to lay these Regulations this autumn.   

 

Recommendation

33.10b

That all fire and rescue services ensure that their personnel at all levels understand the risk of fire taking hold in the external walls of high-rise buildings and know how to recognise it when it occurs

Progress date:

April 2022

Responsible for completion:

  • Fire and Rescue Services

Progress

Status for fire and rescue services

In progress

Status for London Fire Brigade

Complete

The National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) report that to fully address recommendation 33.10b, fire and rescue services should review all training products to ensure that the hazards associated with external wall system failures are identified, including those related to Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) cladding, are covered, and then carry out training and assessment of all staff on how to identify control measures to respond to the hazard of fire spread in external wall systems.

In June 2021, the NFCC surveyed all fire and rescue services in England about their progress against recommendation 33.10b:

  • 23% of services (10 services) have completed this recommendation and have trained all relevant staff using NFCC products. This includes updated NFCC guidance and a suite of building information sheets to help services embed the lessons associated with fire spread on external walls of high-rise buildings.
  • 70% of services (31 services) reported they will have completed training and assessment by April 2022.
  • 7% of services (3 services) have not yet reviewed existing training. One service has no risk associated with high-rise residential building risk in their area, and follow neighbouring service procedure, their inspection teams have appropriate training. The other services consider the existing training products to be suitable, so have focused on making changes to other areas, but intend on reviewing training when capacity allows.

The NFCC has produced a number of guidance documents and training materials to support services. These cover: 

  • High rise residential buildings and building failures
  • Impact of fire or firefighting on structural elements or structural frames
  • Impact of fire or firefighting on structural materials
  • Partial or structural collapse: Fires in buildings
  • External fire spread
  • Undetected fire spread
  • Fire spread breaching a compartment
  • Fires in buildings greater than 18m

London Fire Brigade has reported that it has completed recommendation 33.10b. All of the Brigade’s operational and control staff have received training to recognise and understand the risks involved in fires taking hold in the external walls of high-rise buildings and how such risks may be mitigated to enhance the safety of the public and firefighters.