Comprehensive regulatory change is needed to reduce the cost of fire
The current regulation allows too many buildings to be destroyed by fire. In recent years fires have destroyed a number of blocks of flats in London, schools across the country, a student accommodation block in Bolton, a care home in Crewe, two Holiday Inn style hotels and a very large number of warehouses and factories. In each case there were no injuries but the buildings could no longer be used after the fires. Perversely, under the current regulations the outcome of each of these fires was a “success” even though homes, property, institutions and businesses and jobs were destroyed/lost.
The BSA believes that the Government should use the Building Safety Bill to make buildings more resilient to fire to reduce the £9 billion annual cost of fire. This is possible by:
- Using the Building Safety Bill to amend Section 1 of the Building Act to provide the Secretary of State the power to make Regulations to facilitate the protection of property
- Amending the Building Regulations to apply/limit the power in a proportionate manner for the purposes of fire safety
- Revising the ADB Guidance based on a proportionate consideration of property protection alongside life safety in order to provide the detail of required fire safety design measures for the various purpose groups/building types.
This would be a legally enforceable but flexible system. Sprinklers could provide the necessary life safety and property protection for buildings where there is the possibility of large loss of life, where firefighter safety is likely to be compromised, and/or where loss of a building would impose significant negative impacts and costs on a local community and/or on the public purse. The increased use of sprinklers would result in fewer large, dangerous and costly fires and would make the task of the Fire and Rescue Service safer, easier and cheaper.