Reducing fire risk in buildings: the role of fire safety expertise and governance in building and planning approval

Journal article


Benson, C. and Elsmore, S. (2021). Reducing fire risk in buildings: the role of fire safety expertise and governance in building and planning approval. Journal of Housing and the Built Environment. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10901-021-09870-9
AuthorsBenson, C. and Elsmore, S.
Abstract

Following the Grenfell tower incident, fire safety is being re-examined around the world. One key area is planning and building approval. It has been suggested that expert fire authority advice is being ignored in building and planning control. In this paper, freedom of information requests were submitted to fifty local government authorities (covering approx. one quarter of the England and Wales population), and three fire authorities, to examine their consultation process. No prior study has
examined this relationship in detail. This work attempts to identify who is assessing fire safety, what expertise exists in the system, and what guidance is available from central government. The impact of austerity on the ability to effectively manage fire safety is also discussed. Results show local government authorities have a large degree of discretion with no guidance from central government on fire safety expertise needed to assess non prescriptive building standards, and only limited guidance on how fire authority advice should be used by local government. The result is a dramatically different level of engagement of fire authorities, and implementation of fire safety advice. There does not appear to be any guarantee that fire expertise is being employed for the purpose
of fire safety in building/ planning processes. This means the building regulatory regime may be one of the many issues contributing to fire safety issues. Stronger legislation is required to prevent a post-code lottery of fire safety implementation.

KeywordsSafe housing; Fire engineering; Building Control; Planning; Fire safety
Year2021
JournalJournal of Housing and the Built Environment
PublisherSpringer
ISSN1383-2336
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1007/s10901-021-09870-9
Publication dates
Print24 Jun 2021
Publication process dates
Accepted08 Jun 2021
Deposited11 Jun 2021
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Open
Accepted author manuscript
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Controlled
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