CROSS Safety Alert
Building a safer future - summary of final report
This Alert is a summary of selected parts of the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety: Final Report that are relevant to structural and civil engineers. The final report should be read in full to appreciate all of the facts and the implications, and to absorb the wealth of information and the recommendations made by Dame Judith Hackitt.
In the view of Dame Judith Hackitt, the above issues have helped to create a cultural issue across the sector, which can be described as a ‘race to the bottom’ caused through ignorance, indifference, or because the system does not facilitate good practice. There is insufficient focus on delivering a building of sufficient quality, in order to ensure that residents are safe, and feel safe.
Note: this Safety Alert was published by SCOSS (Standing Committee on Structural Safety). Since March 2021, SCOSS is integrated under the name Collaborative Reporting for Safer Structures (CROSS).
Who should read this?
Those who own, commission, design, construct, or maintain multi-occupancy higher risk residential buildings (HRRBs) that are 10 storeys or more in height.
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I am a former MIStructE and was until 1986 a GLC District Surveyor in London. I applaud the report and its aims and am glad that it pulls no punches. However: Who is going to devise the new rules and draft the new legislation? The "race to the bottom" started with the introduction of the 1985 Building Regulations and the subsequent abolition of the Greater London Council. The wealth of expertise in its specialised fire regulations department and its world renowned scientific department were fragmented. At the same time the statutory status of the District Surveyor, the chief building control officer was extinguished. Thus at a stroke a well established system of control, administered by properly professionally qualified and trained personnel was removed. The regulations were then diluted with the abolition of Section 20 of the former Building Acts (Amendment) Act 1939, which could (in the view of the commentator) have prevented the disastrous Grenfell Tower fire. Unless the expertise of the fast disappearing group of DSs who formally ran the system is harnessed, I see no hope of the recommendation ever being effectively implemented.