England: Government questioned over plans to revise fire safety guidance

Image of the Grenfell Tower fire courtesy of Natalie Oxford via Twitter

The UK government is facing questions from local government over plans to issue new guidance on ‘desktop studies’, whereby combustible materials are not regularly tested before their use in buildings.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) intends to consult on changes to Fire safety: Approved Document B, which will include plans to “revise the wording” on desktop studies, Inside Housing reports.

Desktop studies allow for materials to be cleared for use in building projects based on previous test data, without developers subjecting the material to large-scale tests themselves. There is currently no reference in the document on desktop studies.

A spokesperson for the Local Government Association (LGA) said it was “not enough” to tweak guidance on desktop studies, adding: “While we need to make it clear that reliance on desktop studies is no longer acceptable, the relevant sections in Approved Document B must as a minimum make it clear that all the material in cladding systems should be non-combustible, or have passed a robust full-scale fire safety test.”