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The Construction Industry Council (CIC) has called on the government to extend the ban on the use of combustible materials to a wider range of buildings than currently planned.
The CIC said it wanted the ban to include care homes, halls
of residence and potentially schools.
The recommendation came in response to a government consultation
first published in January proposing a change in Building Regulations to ban
the use of combustible materials in and on external walls and in specified
attachments to the external walls on buildings such as hotels, hostels and
boarding houses of 11m or above.
The CIC response said: “There is also a case to extend the
ban to buildings where there is a reduced capacity for escape such as care
homes and hospitals and where young people assemble, (e.g. schools and
nurseries) and public assembly buildings (e.g. theatres, libraries and
The CIC is also urging government to consider reducing the
11m height for buildings where vulnerable people sleep, including care homes,
which represent a higher risk.
The CIC said in its response: “A risk-based approach should
be considered, rather than relying only on trigger heights as the key criteria
for making these decisions. For example, Rosepark Care Home in Hertfordshire
was only two storeys yet the 2017 fire there resulted in 14 deaths. We would
welcome further research into the height aspect.”
Graham Watts, chief executive of the CIC, said: “Our members
are strongly of the view that government proposals, while extremely welcome, do
not go far enough and we need to do more to protect the safety of the most
vulnerable in society. It is for these reasons that we are urging that the ban
on the use of combustible materials be extended to far wider use classes.”
The CIC added that it supports the government’s proposal for
the outright ban on metal composite panels with a polyethylene core (including
the type used on the Grenfell Tower).
But it cautioned against taking actions that would prohibit
the use of timber as structural material, saying: “Timber structures are
used successfully in buildings in other countries to heights well above 11m and
the difference between fire risk in timber cladding and fire risk in timber
structures should be fully understood before taking steps that may have the
unintended consequence of prohibiting sustainable timber.”
And it warned of a “lack of focus” on other aspects of the
Building Safety Programme outside of fire and structural concerns, pointing to
the “significant” potential problem of overheating in buildings, which it said
is being overlooked.
The CIC said: “Overheating is already a problem – it is hard
to quantify because cases are often being settled confidentially out of court.
Further published, peer reviewed evidence (from UCL) suggests a growing
problem, leading to several thousand excess deaths per year by 2050.
“The connection of the issue of overheating to this
consultation on combustible materials is that it does not seem to acknowledge
that overheating is a problem, or that external shading is one of the measures
to mitigate it. There needs to be a commitment to some specific research into
the influence of external shading devices on the external spread of fire.”
The CIC’s full response to the consultation can be found here.