Concern that Dame Judith Hackitt’s key reforms (as outlined in her review of building regulation and fire safety post-Grenfell) will not be delivered, has resulted in the government’s announcement (09/05/19) that it will cover the costs of replacing the external cladding on 150 high-rise blocks.
The Hackitt Review, carried out in December 2017, proposed a range of key implementations, including the replacement of combustible external cladding across other high-rise buildings.
Tamlite Lighting’s perspective on this announcement is as follows:
Firstly, we believe the Emergency Lighting Standards - which are coming up to 50 years old - require a major overhaul. By way of an example; escape levels were based on the technical capabilities of luminaires developed in the 1970’s: therefore, these regulations need to be updated and change is required across all aspects of Fire Safety.
Secondly, it is important that we make clear we welcome the further £200m bill to replace Grenfell Tower-type cladding (in private high-rise blocks). However, we are very concerned that the focus has been driven by the media spot-light on cladding – as such, we feel there has been insufficient attention on the need to address all aspects of fire safety including Auto fire detection, Emergency and Escape lighting.
Finally, we would like to see significant fines, penalties – and in the most extreme cases prison sentences – for landlords of high-rise / larger scale buildings where safety standards are not met. We regularly see examples in the media of ‘private’ landlords being fined and facing prison sentences (often these individuals own/operate small apartments and buildings). All in all, more must be done to deter any organisation or individual who fails to protect the lives of those living in its building.
Overall, the importance of emergency lighting cannot be understated; and it is crucial that those responsible for the refurbishment of high-rise tower blocks consider the wide-ranging elements of fire safety, as well as the vital external cladding on these buildings.