CIOB asks Gove for meeting over care home fire regs

care home fire regs
Michael Gove (Dreamstime/Kubajunek)

CIOB has written to Michael Gove, secretary of state at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC), requesting a meeting about fire safety rules for care homes.

The institute is supporting a campaign by member Steven Miles and his wife Claire, after her mother died in a fire at Newgrange Care Home in Hertfordshire, in April 2017. The couple have been campaigning to amend the fire safety regulations so care homes are classified as ‘higher-risk buildings’ in the Building Safety Act (CM January 2023).

They also want to change the current Building Regulations Approved Document B (ADB) which governs fire safety and currently provides no recommendation for sprinklers to be included in care homes.

In the letter, CIOB director of policy, external affairs and research Eddie Tuttle said: “Under the act, care homes are defined as ‘in scope’ of the new building safety regime during design and construction but not during occupation. While we understand the reasoning, we support Steven and Claire in their conclusion that the vulnerable nature of care home occupants means greater care and consideration needs to be given to regulation of safety in these buildings.”

“We would like to formally invite you, or any relevant officials, at the department to meet with Steven and Claire so that they can brief you further on the work that they have been doing to campaign for greater fire safety regulations in care homes.

“Their harrowing experience brings home the importance of building safety and the laws that enforce it.”

Review of ADB

DLUHC is undertaking a technical review of ADB and opened a consultation on care home sprinklers in January, saying it was “minded… to recommend sprinklers in all care homes, irrespective of height”.

After the Newgrange fire, coroner Geoffrey Sullivan said in his report that all witnesses had “expressed concern that sprinkler systems are not mandatory requirement for care homes”. He added that he was surprised that the definition of higher-risk buildings focused on height and did not give due consideration to the risk associated with the occupants.

Newgrange Care Home has since been rebuilt without any sprinklers, although the building does meet required fire safety regulations.

Since the Miles’ campaign started, inspections by the London Fire Brigade during 2018-19 across 177 care homes found that more than half needed to make fire safety improvements. Essex County Fire & Rescue inspected 152 care homes during the same period and reported that more than a third (51) were unsatisfactory.

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