• International Workplace
  • 12 September 2017

Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety: terms of reference published

The Government has published the terms of reference for the independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety that was commissioned following the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy.

This Review will urgently assess the effectiveness of current building and fire safety regulations and related compliance and enforcement issues, addressing whether the Government’s large-scale cladding system testing programme identified any potential systemic failures.

The Review’s two key priorities are to develop a more robust regulatory system for the future and provide further assurance to residents that the buildings they live in are safe and remain safe. While the Review will cover the regulatory system for all buildings, it will have a specific focus on multi-occupancy high rise residential buildings.

Dame Judith Hackitt, a qualified engineer with strong regulatory background, is leading the Review and will draw on the experience of local government, industry, the fire sector, international experts and MPs. She will also engage with residents of multi-occupancy residential buildings.

The Review will report jointly to Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid, and Home Secretary, Amber Rudd. An interim report will be submitted in autumn 2017 and a final report submitted in spring 2018. The Review will cooperate fully with the Public Inquiry, and Dame Judith Hackitt will review her recommendations in the light of the findings of the Inquiry.

Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid, said:

“We must learn the lessons of the Grenfell Tower tragedy and ensure that a fire like this cannot happen again. Following the fire, I commissioned a series of large-scale tests, which have raised the question of whether there have been potential systemic failures within the building regulatory and fire safety system.

“This independent review led by Dame Judith Hackitt will address any potential failures and recommend how we ensure the whole building regulations and fire safety system is robust. I am determined that we do everything possible to make people safe and to ensure that they feel safe.”

Review Chair, Dame Judith Hackitt, said:

“I look forward to working with experts from across different sectors to take an urgent, fresh and comprehensive examination of the regulatory system and related compliance and enforcement issues.

“It’s right that we consider the whole system together and ensure that everything possible is done to improve the safety of buildings. I will also be speaking to residents of multi-occupancy residential buildings who must have a voice about these important issues that affect their safety.”

Following the Grenfell Tower tragedy, the Government has also established a Building Safety Programme with the aim of ensuring high rise residential buildings are safe. The main parts to this work are:

  • finding other buildings that may be of concern;
  • making existing buildings safe;
  • identifying changes needed to make buildings safer in future; and
  • making the changes needed to make buildings safer in future.

Screening tests at the Building Research Establishment (BRE) have been identifying whether Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) cladding samples from buildings meet the limited combustibility requirements of current Building Regulations guidance.

Seven further large-scale tests have been undertaken to understand whether and when it may be safe to use ACM as part of a wall system in high rise buildings, in line with current Building Regulations guidance.

The Expert Panel’s advice following these tests is that ACM with an unmodified polyethylene filler (category 3 in screening tests) with any type of insulation presents a significant hazard on buildings over 18m. 

Building owners have been given advice on interim fire safety measures they should take pending remedial action being completed. 

The Government plans to provide further advice on the issues building owners may need to consider as they undertake remedial work, and will work with building owners to ensure buildings are made safe.

The Government is working with the Expert Panel to consider whether there are any heightened risks linked to other cladding systems and broader fire and building safety issues in high rise buildings.

The full report can be viewed here.