Calls for ‘forgotten professionals’ to be bought back in to the construction process

In a series of 12 recommendations submitted to the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety, the GAI has called for the recognition of the ‘forgotten professionals’ in the construction supply chain.

The re-introduction of the Clerk of Works role on site and compulsory use of a fully qualified architectural ironmonger are just two of the recommendations put forward by the Guild to the enquiry, led by Dame Judith Hackitt.

The call for evidence was launched in July in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire.

In its submission, the GAI has also highlighted the need for mandatory fire door inspection in the UK and for larger fines for non-compliance, a process that is already in place in the USA and Australia.

Douglas Masterson, technical manager at the GAI, said:

“The Guild’s response has been formed from the collective opinion of the architectural ironmongery industry, including very experienced professionals who have worked around the world on complex fire safety issues. Fire door hardware and other aspects of ironmongery specification play a crucial role in fire safety. The voice of these professionals must not be lost in critical discussions on safety and standards.”

In its response to the Hackitt enquiry, the Guild urged the review team to review a wide range of documents which contain contradictions or ambiguity. It has identified at least 18 separate documents and legislation that are relevant to fire safety specifically within the architectural ironmongery and the allied fire door industries that it thinks should be given more clarity.

The submission points out that many of the standards within the industry are not mandatory for building construction, such as BS 8300 relating to accessibility, and are seen purely as best practice guidance. For architects and other construction professionals, this can cause confusion as to what guidelines they should be following resulting in inconsistency and error.

Reiterating calls made by this year’s Fire Door Safety Week, the Guild has emphasised the importance of third party certification of fire safety products and the need for a mandatory installer registration scheme for the installation of fire doors.

The GAI’s key recommendations:

1. There should be mandatory usage of fully qualified architectural ironmongers to compile an ironmongery specification.

2. A similar mandatory scheme to Gas Safe should be adopted in to law for installation of fire doors.

3. Fire door inspection should be mandatory in the UK in similar fashion to USA and Australia. Heavy fines should be levied for non-compliance.

4. Third party certification of fire safety products should be mandatory.

5. There needs to be an individual who is tasked with the sign-off of each stage in the

process which is related to fire safety. This should include any deviation away from accepted and original signed-off specification.

6. There should be a complete review of the sign off process with the introduction of mandatory sign off procedure which is similar to the Building Control Amendment Regulations 2014 (BCAR) in the Republic of Ireland.

7. The role and position of the Clerk of Works on site should be re-introduced as a means of ensuring on site compliance in installation.

8. Approved Document B should be revised to remove ambiguities and be much clearer to understand.

9. Approved Documents in general should be written in such a way that the requirements of each one do not contradict another.

10. The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 should be amended to provide greater involvement of the fire service with regards to the sign-off of buildings

11. The responsible person should be named on the Health and Safety poster with a contact number giving the realistic times for when a person will answer.

12. A clear and transparent mechanism should be available which allows tenants to contact the responsible person/ local authority/ building control to report concerns on fire safety.