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New fire safety system for high-rises

Welsh Government will reform the system regulating fire safety in high-rise buildings.

Housing and local government minister Julie James will tell the Assembly later today (Tuesday) that she will consider new legislation to replace the current Fire Safety Order and a new building control system.

This is part of Welsh Government’s response to the Road Map drawn up by the Building Safety Expert Group after Dame Judith Hackitt’s independent report in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire.

The Hackitt report recommended a new regulatory system for all buildings above 30m but Julie James said:

‘I believe that the situation is different in Wales, where we have fewer buildings of that height. I am clear that the threshold will be no higher than 18 metres. We will also consider whether the new system could feasibly apply to other types of higher-risk buildings, such as those where vulnerable people sleep.’

The Road Map identified 143 residential high-rise buildings over 18m in Wales, with 38 in the social and 105 in the private sector.

The minister had already accepted the Expert Group’s recommendation to promote the retro-fitting of sprinklers in high-rise buildings across all sector.

She went on:

‘We have a strong record of working to improve fire safety in people’s homes; we led the way in requiring sprinklers in all new and converted homes, and since responsibility for fire was devolved in 2005, the number of fires in dwellings has fallen further and faster in Wales than anywhere else in the UK.

‘The Building Safety Expert Group recommendations take a pragmatic and considered response to resident safety. We are taking forward this work at pace and while a number of areas, including possible legislation, will require more in-depth analysis, I will make a definitive announcement on a proposal for buildings in scope in the autumn.

‘I want to thank the group for their time and their careful consideration of a wide range of difficult issues. We will not compromise on effective delivery for the sake of ‘quick fixes’ that fail to produce a safer result for residents.’



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