Author Bio ▼

Jamie Hailstone is a freelance journalist and author, who has also contributed to numerous national business titles including Utility Week, the Municipal Journal, Environment Journal and consumer titles such as Classic Rock.
July 3, 2018

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Fire safety

Builders and councils “regularly failing” to identify fire safety defects

Builders and local authorities in Scotland are “regularly failing” to identify fire safety problems in new buildings, according to a new report.

The report commissioned by the Scottish Government and led by Professor John Cole on building standards compliance and enforcement found the current inspection processes used by buildings and statutory authorities are “regularly failing to identify deficiencies in fire-stopping installations”.

And it adds that any checks on fire safety “cannot be easily fulfilled by a single inspection at the end of the project”.

The report also claims some design teams sign confidentiality clauses, which prevent them from raising concerns.

“These arrangements have resulted in the situation where there is often limited independent professional oversight by the actual designers of the buildings of the detailed construction of projects and their compliance with building standards,” the report states.

The report concludes that while the “core elements” of the current system should be maintained, some “reshaping” will be required.

“In light of recent events in Scotland and England, it was felt that immediate priority must be given to verifiers to strengthen their inspection regimes so as to address what would appear to be systemic defects across the industry in relation to frequent inadequacies in the construction of masonry walls and the installation of fire stopping,” the report states.

The report also raises concerns about the current “capacity and capability” of local authority staff to provide the “required level of service”.

“These concerns included the significant reduction in the number of staff over recent years, the number of staff in Building Standards services nearing retirement age and the difficulty being experienced in recruiting qualified staff to fill posts.

“This lack of resource has no doubt contributed to recent problems including many reported failures to ensure that developers comply with the full procedural requirements of the legislation in relation to design warrants, amendments to warrants, notifications and completion certificates.”

To read the full report, click here.

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