Progress on Grenfell recommendations is patchy, update reveals

The Home Office has published an update on work to implement the Phase 1 Grenfell Inquiry recommendations, but much of it requires changes to the law ‘this autumn’ and fire and rescue service responses vary widely across England.  

Sir Martin Moore-Bick made 46 recommendations in his October 2019 report, most of which were levelled at the London Fire Brigade, but many applied also to all fire and rescue services. There were many recommendations to change legislation and these have been seen coming through in the Fire Safety Act 2021 and in the development of the Building Safety Bill which is currently going through Parliament.

Many of the recommendations that do require a change in the law will have to wait for regulations to be laid in Parliament, and that mostly involves using the regulation making powers in the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. For example, the requirement for the Responsible Person to ensure a Premises Information Box is available in all high-rise buildings will be set out in these regulations. Fire door checks will also feature in regulations. The update simply says this will happen ‘this autumn.’

Areas of note include the extent to which fire and rescue services have trained their staff to be able to identify hazards from external wall systems. The NFCC contributes to this Home Office update, and they report that only a quarter of all services have trained their staff, with a further 70 percent indicating that they will have complete training and assessment by April 2022.

Fire and rescue services should be capable of receiving electronic plans about high-rise buildings and be able to access them during an incident. London Fire Brigade report that this forms part of its Onerisk project and is ongoing.

The number of fire and rescue services that have developed policies to manage the transition from stay put to get out is low, with just 14 percent (including London) reporting that they had completed the recommendation and trained staff. A further 63 percent said that they would complete it by April 2022.

Sir Martin made recommendations about improving the evacuation of high-rise buildings. The update shows that of the four strands of work that the Home Office alongside the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC), three now have suppliers in place to do the work.

Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans should be created for residents whose ability to self-evacuate may be compromised. The government consulted on its plans earlier in the summer and this update provides no further information pending the consultation response.

Fire and rescue services have invested in smoke hoods to help residents escape safely through toxic environments. London was the first to equip all its firefighters and fire engine with these hoods and this update shows that two thirds of all services in England have acquired them. The remaining services indicate they will have them operational by the end of the year or March 2022.

The full update can be found here.