Building regulations in the United Kingdom for ensuring fire safety in high rise buildings are not fit for purpose, according to a damning report which found that current regulations are unclear, roles and responsibilities were not understood and compliance and enforcement mechanisms are inadequate.

The interim report of the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety has described a state of systematic failure in building regulation throughout the United Kingdom when it comes to fire safety.

“The work of the review to date has found that the current regulatory system for ensuring fire safety in high-rise and complex buildings is not fit for purpose,” the report said.

“This applies throughout the life cycle of a building, both during construction and occupation, and is a problem connected both to the culture of the construction industry and the effectiveness of the regulators.”

According to the report:

  • Regulations are complex and unclear, leading to confusion and misinterpretation in their application to high-rise and enforcement
  • Roles and responsibilities were unclear across design, construction and maintenance
  • Means of assessing and ensuring competency of people working on high rise buildings were inadequate, and there are often no special competency requirements for those working on high-rise and complex buildings
  • Processes with regard to compliance, enforcement and sanctions were weak, with discrepancies between what is designed and what is building and a lack of robust change control.
  • Mechanisms through which residents are able to raise and escalate concerns are unclear and inadequate.
  • Systems for product testing, marketing and quality assurance are not clear.

The review will now more into its second phase and publish a final report in the Northern Hemisphere Spring of 2018.

The review was announced in July following the Grenfell Tower in June in which 71 people died.

The fire appears to have been accelerated but the buildings external cladding system, and further testing of cladding on other high-rise buildings have since revealed the widespread use of aluminium composite panels which fail to meet combustibility requirements of building regulations guidance.

Review head Dame Judith Hackitt said she had been impacted by meetings with residents of high-rise buildings.

“I have been deeply affected by the residents of high-rise buildings I have met and I have learned so much from them,” Hackitt said.

“These buildings are their homes and their communities. They are proud of where they live, but their trust in the system has been badly shaken by the events of the last few months. We need to rebuild that trust.”