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Hackitt: Insurer wants guidance on combustible materials

17 May 2018 | By Neil Gerrard

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An insurance firm has demanded more technical guidance from the government on combustible materials, after it emerged that the Hackitt Review would not ban combustible cladding.

HEADLINE: Grenfell: Insurer demands guidance on combustible materials
An insurance firm has demanded more technical guidance from the government on combustible materials, after it emerged that the Hackitt Review would not ban combustible cladding.
Dame Judith Hackitt's review of Building Regulations and fire safety was published earlier today but stopped short of recommending a ban that many architects, construction firms and victims of the Grenfell Tower disaster had called for.
Tom Roche, a senior consultant for international codes and standards for global insurer and fire mitigation firm FM Global, said it was "disappointing" not to see a direct call for current technical guidelines to be reviewed.
Roche warned that instead it appeared that the government was "pushing more responsibility onto industry" to ensure building safety.
He warned that putting more responsibility onto industry without issuing updated technical guidance was likely to create "further confusion" for building owners.
He added: "Hackitt also falls short of calling for a ban on combustible materials which many expected, again relying on the sector do the right thing based on outcomes and pushing the responsibility onto industry to trace and test materials. 
"While this is a good long term approach we have to look to now and it’s even more imperative that the Government takes responsibility for updating technical guidance for the industry to use in the short term."
Hackitt's review focuses on high-rise residential buildings above ten storeys, which Roche admitted was an important area post-Grenfell.
But he warned that the disaster exposed failings across the UK's fire safety systems that were not just specific to high-rise buildings. 
"When it comes to fire safety, we need the same level of rigour to be applied to all buildings, including homes, schools, hospitals and workplaces, many of which are low rise buildings," he said.
 
"What is clear from this review is that rather than waiting indefinitely for the government to provide answers, building owners need to get ahead of the issues and have a fire safety strategy in place. 
"If there’s a material they are unsure about the safety of, they shouldn’t delay for the Government to make recommendations, they should get it looked at now."An insurance firm has demanded more technical guidance from the government on combustible materials, after it emerged that the Hackitt Review would not ban combustible cladding.

Dame Judith Hackitt's review of Building Regulations and fire safety was published earlier today but stopped short of recommending a ban that many architects, construction firms and victims of the Grenfell Tower disaster had called for.

Tom Roche, a senior consultant for international codes and standards for global insurer and fire mitigation firm FM Global, said it was "disappointing" not to see a direct call for current technical guidelines to be reviewed.

Roche warned that instead it appeared that the government was "pushing more responsibility onto industry" to ensure building safety.

He cautioned that doing this without issuing updated technical guidance was likely to create "further confusion" for building owners.

He added: "Hackitt also falls short of calling for a ban on combustible materials which many expected, again relying on the sector do the right thing based on outcomes and pushing the responsibility onto industry to trace and test materials. 

"While this is a good long term approach we have to look to now and it’s even more imperative that the Government takes responsibility for updating technical guidance for the industry to use in the short term."

Hackitt's review focuses on high-rise residential buildings above ten storeys, which Roche admitted was an important area post-Grenfell.

But he warned that the disaster exposed failings across the UK's fire safety systems that were not just specific to high-rise buildings. 

"When it comes to fire safety, we need the same level of rigour to be applied to all buildings, including homes, schools, hospitals and workplaces, many of which are low rise buildings," he said. "What is clear from this review is that rather than waiting indefinitely for the government to provide answers, building owners need to get ahead of the issues and have a fire safety strategy in place. 

"If there’s a material they are unsure about the safety of, they shouldn’t delay for the Government to make recommendations, they should get it looked at now."

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