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Independent Review falls short of CIPHE’s hopes for industry

 With the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety published on Thursday 17 May, The Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (CIPHE) has voiced its concern that some of the recommendations have not gone far enough to protect public safety and health, or raise competency levels within the construction industry.

The CIPHE contributed to the report through its relationship with the Construction Industry Council (CIC) and the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng). The body has advocated the need for the use of residential fire sprinkler systems and the related need for professional training - in their installation and servicing - for the last 20 years. 

Kevin Wellman, CEO of the CIPHE said, “As a body, we welcomed the findings presented in Dame Hackitt’s interim report and had hoped the final review would push further. While we support the need for robust regulatory change and the establishment of accountability throughout the build and everyday use of high rise buildings, the review has not gone far enough to immediately address the issues of competency, formal accreditation and regulation of those involved in the building and maintenance industries.”

“It looks, once again, like a missed opportunity when recommendations are restricted to only residential buildings above 10 storeys. Many of the regulatory failings apply equally to thousands more buildings both in size and in purpose. It is equally disappointing that once again there has been no recommendation for the wholesale adoption, including retrofit in existing buildings, of residential sprinkler systems.”

“Moves to create dutyholder roles and view high rise buildings in a more holistic manner are to be commended, but we are equally concerned about the implementation of enforcement of any new regulations. The review itself found that formal enforcement of those contravening Regulations has fallen by 75% in the last 10 years. A robust system cannot be put in place if enforcement, continued scrutiny and penalties for those seeking to break the rules are not an essential part of it.”

Mr Wellman continued, “Whilst Dame Hackitt’s report has recognised the role to be played by professional bodies in providing CPD for their respective industries, this does not address matters of competence when minimum skill levels and a statutory license to practice them are not enforced. Nor is it likely to address the millions of individuals who do not belong to a professional body. In order to comply with the new proposed code of Building Standards, approval should only be given to those belonging to Professional Engineering Institutes or similar likeminded industry organisations, that insist on regular, accredited CPD for their members. The CIPHE will continue to collaborate with partners from across the building services industry in order to deliver better protection for the safety and health of the public in future. We continue to urge the Government and regulatory bodies to take decisive action beyond those recommended in this report.”