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Grenfell Report - Knock-On Implications for Boarding Schools?

on Wednesday, 20 June 2018.

Dame Judith Hackitt has published her final report into the review of building regulations and fire safety, including a number of recommendations for schools.

Entitled Building a Safer Future: Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety: Final Report, the report addresses how the current regulatory system covering high rise and complex buildings isn't fit for purpose, but goes short of recommending that all cladding of the sort used on Grenfell is removed.

Recommendations for Residential Buildings

The report makes over 50 recommendations to the government as to how to deliver a more robust regulatory system for the future. It covers a wide range of issues from the design, construction and refurbishment of buildings, to product safety and the establishment of new competence standards for the fire safety industry.

Whilst many of the recommendations are aimed primarily at multi-occupancy higher risk residential buildings that are 10 storeys or more in height (HRRBs), Dame Hackitt recommends that the government considers applying a number of the recommendations to wider set of residential buildings used as living accommodation where people sleep, including boarding schools and halls of residence (Institutional Residential Buildings).

These recommendations include:

  • more effective working between Local Authority Building Standards and Fire and Rescue Authorities

  • greater control and notification requirements in relation to changes made to Institutional Residential Buildings during building works

  • tightening of arrangements for fire risk assessments

  • greater scrutiny and control over the fire safety industry, making it easier for schools to assure themselves of the competence of their fire safety advisors

  • improving the procurement and contractual process to ensure that safety requirements are not compromised for cost reduction

What Should Schools Do Now?

There is unlikely to be any immediate impact on the current school's compliance framework, but fire safety should remain high on your agenda. You should be mindful of the move towards greater regulation and scrutiny of fire safety arrangements for Institutional Residential Buildings.

There has been much discussion over the difficulties in assessing the competence and expertise of those who hold themselves out as fire experts, and Dame Hackitt recommends further regulation in this area.

You should review the arrangements in place with your current fire safety advisors in order to assure that you are 'competent' advisors and that your fire safety risk assessments and fire safety arrangements are safe, particularly in relation to boarding houses.

Do you need legal advice on matters of fire safety at your school? Please contact Natalie Wargent, in our Education team, on 0117 314 5433.

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