Emergency lighting laws set to be overhauled

THE REGULATIONS and guidance covering emergency lighting in buildings look set to be overhauled as Dame Judith Hackitt published her interim report today on the Building Regulations following the Grenfell Tower fire.

Hackitt wants to rewrite the fire safety rules regime from scratch, which includes emergency lighting for escape routes. She is also calling for those working on the design, construction, inspection and maintenance of complex buildings to be ‘suitably qualified’.

Dame Judith is calling for a ‘cultural and behavioural change’ to deliver an effective system that ensures complex buildings are built and maintained so that they are safe for people to live in for many years after the original construction. Pic: Chemical Engineer magazine

‘As the review has progressed,’ said Hackitt, ‘it has become clear that the whole system of regulation, covering what is written down and the way in which it is enacted in practice, is not fit for purpose, leaving room for those who want to take shortcuts to do so.

‘My focus is to create a better system for the future which will be easier to work with, deliver better solutions everywhere and rebuild confidence.

‘I have set out to look at the whole system, including the people working within it, and how the various parts interact to deliver outcomes on the ground.’

This includes the roles and responsibilities of people designing, planning and constructing buildings; the roles and responsibilities of different enforcing bodies and those who set standards; and the roles and responsibilities of all those who interact with the system during the use of a building, which often involves highly complex ownership models.

‘What is initially designed is not what is being built, and quality assurance of materials and people is seriously lacking’.

Dame Judith said she had been shocked by some of the practices she had heard about and says because of that she has become convinced of the need for a new intelligent system of regulation and enforcement for high-rise and complex buildings which will encourage everyone to do the right thing and will hold to account those who try to cut corners’.

Following the Grenfell Tower fire in June in which 71 people lost their lives, Dame Judith Hackitt's interim report says the current regime 'leaves room for those who want to take shortcuts to do so'.

Dame Judith is calling for a ‘cultural and behavioural change’ to deliver an effective system that ensures complex buildings are built and maintained so that they are safe for people to live in for many years after the original construction.

‘The mindset of doing things as cheaply as possible and passing on responsibility for problems and shortcomings to others must stop.

‘Everyone’s focus must be on doing the right things because it is their responsibility as part of a system which provides buildings that are safe and sustainable for those who will live in and use them for many decades’.

Dame Judith is also calling for those working on the design, construction, inspection and maintenance of complex and high-risk buildings to be ‘suitably qualified’.

‘The professional and accreditation bodies have an opportunity to demonstrate that they are capable of establishing a robust, comprehensive and coherent system covering all disciplines for work on such buildings.

‘If they are able to come together and develop a joined up system covering all levels of qualification in relevant disciplines, this will provide the framework for regulation to mandate the use of suitable, qualified professionals who can demonstrate that their skills are up to date. This should cover as a minimum engineers, those installing and maintaining fire safety systems and other safety-critical systems; fire engineers; fire risk assessors, fire safety enforcing officers; and building control inspectors.

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