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19 December 2018
The government’s building safety reforms could be meaningless unless urgent action is taken to address the skills gap in the building and fire safety sectors, according to London Fire Brigade.
Despite the government’s commitment to making buildings safer after Grenfell, including their ‘Building a Safer Future’ report, which covered many of the Brigade’s recommendations, there is still a noticeable skills gap.
According to the Brigade, there are not enough people with the relevant skills and qualifications to provide scrutiny.
Dan Daly, assistant commissioner for fire safety, said, “There are countless points in a building’s life where decisions are made that can have dangerous consequences. Everything from a poor choice of building materials to badly designed refurbishments could undermine a building’s safety and risk lives.
"Wrong decisions can have devastating consequences. It is vital that these critical decisions are made by competent, skilled people to ensure safety is not compromised.
“Next time, it won’t be ACM cladding, it will be some other unforeseen risk that will only be noticed after a fire unless we take this opportunity to ensure there are sufficient, competent people who really understand building and fire safety.”
The government’s Joint Regulatory Group has been welcomed by the fire industry, but there are concerns that it only covers buildings 10 storeys or more.
Dan Daly continued: “Although Fire and Rescue Service expertise is an essential part of the JRG, London has thousands of tall buildings and so it will have huge resource implications to ensure we can provide our expertise on so many complicated projects both in construction and occupation.
“We would like reassurance that the Government will properly fund this and commit to addressing the skills gap to ensure the availability of competent people across the sector for this work.”
The Brigade would also like assurances that the review of Approved Document B includes sprinklers to be mandatory in all residential tower blocks.