- 18 May 2021
In 2018, the Building Standards (Fire Safety) Review Panel, recommended to ministers that the building regulations relating to external fire spread (Standard 2.7) did not require to be amended. It did, however, recommend that the supporting guidance in the technical handbooks could be strengthened.
The key changes in relation to cladding introduced on 1 October 2019 were as follows:
- lowering the height at which combustible cladding can be used from 18 metres to 11 metres to align with fire fighting from the ground
- tighter controls over the combustibility of cladding systems on hospitals, residential care buildings, entertainment and assembly buildings, regardless of building height
Kevin Stewart, Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning announced at the Local Government and Communities Committee meeting on 4 September 2020 that a panel of fire experts would be convened. The remit of this panel would be to consider a ban on the highest risk cladding materials through building regulations, and to review the role of the large scale test, BS 8414.
The Building Standards (Fire Safety) Review Panel 2020/21 was convened 11 December 2020 with the following remit:
- consider a ban on the highest risk cladding materials including Metal Composite Material (MCM) cladding panels
- consider the ongoing role of BS 8414 in supporting guidance including any new test evidence, modelling, real fire data and evidence emerging from the Grenfell Phase 2 Inquiry;
- competence of those involved in cladding systems design, testing, installation and verification will also be considered; and
- any unintended consequences will also be identified and considered
The review will inform any proposed changes to building regulations, mandatory building standards and supporting guidance contained in the Technical Handbooks.
A public consultation ‘Building standards (fire safety) – a consultation on external wall systems ’ opened on the Scottish Government’s consultation hub, Citizen Space on the 16 July 2021 and will close at midnight on the 08 October 2021. The results will inform future direction of fire policy in this area with a view to introducing any new changes early in 2022.
Whilst it remains the case that the BS 8414 test is considered a robust test for the performance of external wall cladding systems under fire conditions, issues continue to be raised over the potential risks arising from the application of test results in the design and construction of specified systems on buildings.
As an interim measure, the Scottish Government Building Standards Division have requested notification from local authority verifiers under S34 of the Building (Scotland) Act 2003 where BS 8414 / BR 135 and BS 9414 extended field of application assessments have been used to demonstrate compliance with the mandatory building standards.
Additionally, pending the outcome of the review, advice on avoiding the use of MCM (category 3) was introduced into Section 2 (fire) of the Technical Handbooks in April 2021.
The agreed minutes of the Building Standards (Fire Safety) Review Panel 2020-21 meetings are published below.