Independent report says fire safety systems 'not fit for purpose' in wake of Grenfell tragedy

Posted On: 
18th December 2017

The system to keep high rise blocks safe from fire is “not fit for purpose” according to a damning review set up by the Government in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

Chair of the review Dame Judith Hackitt said she had been "shocked" by what she found
PA Images

The interim report of the probe into building regulations said the construction industry and the watchdogs that regulate it need to shape up.

Some 71 people were killed when the blaze ripped through the west London tower block in June.

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Flammable cladding installed as a cost-cutting measure has been blamed for the fire spreading quickly up the outside of the building.

The interim review said current regulations are "too complex and unclear" while compliance processes and sanctions for those who flout the rules are "too weak" and residents have inadequate complaint systems.

"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," it concluded.

"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."

Chair of the review Dame Judith Hackitt said she had been "shocked" by some of the practices which allow "those who want to take shortcuts to do so".

She went on: "This tragic incident should not have happened in our country in the 21st century.

"We now all have the opportunity to respond in a way that will lead to lasting change that makes people safer in the future."

And she added: "The mindset of doing things as cheaply as possible and passing on responsibility for problems and shortcomings to others must stop.

"I have been deeply affected by the residents of high-rise buildings I have met and I have learned so much from them. 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."

The Government said it endorsed the "call for concerted action" and added: "We encourage all builders and building owners to prioritise the safety of their residents."