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Tue April 13 2021

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Specialists say focus on cladding comes at expense of other safety measures

8 Mar Fire protection specialists says that attempts to get dangerous cladding replaced on tall buildings has taken the focus off other fire safety hazards that are endemic across the construction industry.

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The Association for Specialist Fire Protection (ASFP) has welcomed the extra money for cladding replacement announced by the Ministry of Housing last month, but said that other identified fire safety failures relating to fire doors and compartmentation measures were getting no support.

Housing secretary Robert Jenrick set out a five-point plan to address unsafe cladding issues on 10th February. This included an additional £3.5bn in funding for the removal and replacement of cladding on buildings over 18 metres in height and a loan scheme for leaseholders to pay for remediation in buildings between 11 and 18 metres, with a maximum repayment of £50 each month. It also included plans to introduce a developer levy that will apply to developers seeking permission to develop certain high-rise buildings in England. However, there has been no mention of funding to rectify other fire safety defects.

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Niall Rowan, chief executive of the Association for Specialist Fire Protection (ASFP), said: “The ASFP believes that money should be made available to cover all identified defects and not just cladding. While there is some degree of discussion over whether the statutory guidance regarding cladding is clear or not, there is no such argument about the requirements of compartmentation that are included in Approved Document B and the national equivalents in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

“We welcome the government’s five point plan to address cladding issues and believe the proposals outlined in the Building Safety Bill will go some way to improve quality and competency within the design, construction and inspection helping to prevent defects from arising in the future. However, we believe that the remediation of identified fire safety failures in existing buildings that are not the fault of the leaseholders or building owners concerned should be supported by appropriate funding.”

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