I propose to take Questions Nos. 317 and 329 together.
In the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire in June 2017, fire authorities were requested to carry out a preliminary survey to identify buildings of more than six storeys, or more than 18m in height, fitted with external cladding or rain screen systems, with or without insulation, and to consider whether use of the power under Section 18 (6) of the Fire Services Act 1981, to require a fire safety assessment, is warranted in respect of identified buildings.
The work of identifying 842 buildings within the medium and high rise category has been undertaken by local authorities, 291 of which are identified as having certain categories of external cladding. After preliminary consideration, local authorities have requested the persons having control of 231 of these buildings to have detailed fire safety assessments carried out.
A guidance note – Fire safety Guidance Note 01 of 2017 Assessing Existing Cladding Systems in Buildings of More than Six Storeys, or More than 18m in Height – has been circulated to fire authorities and placed on my Department’s website as a support for those undertaking assessments of cladding in medium to high rise building.
In relation to providing information to crews in local fire stations, it is expected that information garnered by each local authority on the medium to high rise buildings in their functional area will be used as part of the basis for prioritising Pre-Incident Planning in each fire station area. Pre-Incident Familiarisation involves the crews in each fire station visiting the highest risk premises (for example, hospitals, nursing homes, institutions, industrial / Seveso plants, shopping complexes, etc.) in their station area, to familiarise themselves with the overall layout of the building(s) and the specific risks and fire safety features associated with the premises. A prelude to such visits usually involves the harvesting of information and preparation of site-specific “Pre-Incident Plans”.
Pre-Incident Planning and Familiarisation work is generally managed on a fire station-by-station basis, and selection of priority buildings for Pre-Incident Planning in each fire station area is best left to local judgement. However, additional information on medium-to-high rise buildings has been identified as part of the surveys carried out by fire authorities following the devastating fire at Grenfell Tower in London. While it is expected that many medium to high rise buildings would already be included in current pre-incident planning priorities of local fire stations, it is expected that any additional information on fire safety arising from the fire safety assessments will be factored into on-going Pre-Incident Planning programmes at local level.