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Structural-Safety Group seeks greater scope to cover fire safety

Grenfell tower fire (wider view)

The Structural-Safety Group has called for its scope to be widened so that it can extend its fire safety reporting. 

The Structural-Safety Group – which comprises the Standing Committee on Structural Safety (Scoss) and the Confidential Reporting On Structural Safety (Cross) – currently focuses predominately on the confidential reporting of structural safety issues. 

But its 2017/18 review the group has called on the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government and the Institution of Fire Engineers to help expand Cross to cover fire safety in greater depth. 

The Hackitt Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety that followed the Grenfell Tower tragedy, and cited evidence from the Structural Safety Group, also recommended the anonymous reporting system be expanded.  

“The current CROSS scheme should be extended and strengthened to cover all engineering safety concerns,” the Hackitt Review stated.  

Despite calls for expansion and greater scope, Structural-Safety Group chair Bill Hewlett said the body was under increasing pressure.  

“The pressures on our volunteer SCOSS Committee and CROSS Panel have increased and we all owe a debt to these eminent engineers who give up their time and energy,” he said.  

“[The past two years] has stretched the capacity of both staff and volunteers [at The Structural-Safety Group] so enquiries are being made with the sponsors as to how additional resources may be acquired [however] it is satisfying that there is a growing demand for advice and recommendations on safety.”  

Other recommendations in the Structural-Safety Group review include a call for risk-based assessment methods for high rise and complex buildings, faster publication of safety information, and a resident/occupier reporting system. 

Structural-Safety Group Review Recommendations:  

  • Promote a better understanding of safety and structural safety risks
  • Investigate registration scheme for designers
  • Categorise buildings for design, checking, construction and through life management
  • Develop risk-based assessment methods for high rise and complex buildings, including for major refurbishments
  • Expand CROSS to become a confidential reporting system for fire safety in addition to structural safety 
  • Review the need for requirements to operate high-rise residential and complex buildings
  • Press for legislation for early release of safety-critical information
  • Set up a confidential reporting system for resident/occupier reporting
  • Promote a better understanding of the performance of large structures, 
  • Promote a better understanding of the fire risk in multi-storey car parks

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