Systemic failure caused by several factors led to the devastating Grenfell Tower fire last year, according to the ‘Building a Safer Future’ report released recently. Combustible cladding was not the only reason for the fire disaster; instead, factors such as ambiguities and inconsistencies in the regulatory framework; indifference to public safety issues by compromising quality and execution; lack of clarity regarding the roles and responsibilities of all stakeholders involved in the renovation works; and inadequate regulatory oversight were responsible for the events that led to the fire.
The Grenfell Tower fire killed 71 people last year.
Commissioned by the UK Government following the fire, the report, Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety – ‘Building a Safer Future’ by Dame Judith Hackitt has reviewed existing building and fire safety regulations, and made recommendations for a new regulatory framework to be established for multi-storeyed, multi-occupancy buildings.
The fire that began with a faulty refrigerator in one of the apartments spread quickly through the combustible aluminium composite cladding on the facade, installed just the previous year during renovation works.
However, the new report has shifted focus from the cladding to the systemic failure and calls for a review of the existing regulatory framework. Interestingly, there is no recommendation for a ban on combustible cladding.
Testing done on the cladding at 4,000 towers across the UK following the Grenfell Tower fire as a precautionary measure, found similar cladding material on some of the buildings. To mitigate the risk, the cladding was stripped off those buildings.
The UK Government has also announced a £400 million plan to bear the cost of replacing dangerous cladding on tower blocks across the country.