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GAI welcomes Hackitt recommendations
Published:  22 December, 2017

The Guild of Architectural Ironmongers (GAI) has welcomed the findings and recommendations of the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety and Dame Judith Hackitt’s interim report, ‘Building a Safer Future’.

The Hackitt review was established shortly after the Grenfell Tower fire, and has focused primarily on improving fire safety in high-rise residential blocks and other complex buildings.

However, the report also looks at what can be done more broadly to address perceived system failings in the building regulatory system and deeper cultural problems in the construction industry around regulatory compliance and responsibility. The interim report provides the findings to date and direction of travel for the review, ahead of a final report expected to be submitted in spring 2018.

Of the views put forward to the Hackitt review by the GAI earlier this year, several of its ideas are mentioned in the interim report, including the potential reintroduction of the Clerk of Works role.

Douglas Masterson, GAI technical manager, said: “This was one of the GAI’s key recommendations, as a better regime of inspecting the installation of fire doors and ironmongery on site by a trained professional who is aware of many of the regulations and standards as well as their application would eliminate many of the current gaps in fire safety.”

In the stakeholder evidence section of the interim report, Hackitt specifically discusses ironmongery and repeats the view that “many products are tested totally in isolation and do not account for the interaction with other elements. For a fire door to function, all of the components (seals, glazing, ironmongery) must be compatible. Many lack a formal process to check that products are as originally specified, or even whether the products that are delivered to site are as specification.”

In the GAI’s submission to the review, it called for both fire door inspections and third-party certification of fire safety products to be mandatory and for fire services to be more involved in the sign-off of buildings.

The report also addresses the industry-wide issue of ‘value engineering’ which, it says, was almost always about cutting cost out of a project.

Douglas Masterson said: “The GAI and its members would welcome any change to existing value engineering practice. There need to be more controls placed on the substitution of specified materials.

“Ironmongery, which is one of the last elements fitted to a building, is often at risk of being substituted and not always to an equivalent standard. This creates potentially fatal fire safety issues. We’re glad that this issue is finally being recognised and look forward to seeing how the final review will improve the specification process.”

The issue of a better qualified supply chain was also raised in the report, with a clear recommendation by Hackitt that those working on the design, construction, inspection and maintenance of complex and high-risk buildings are suitably qualified.

Douglas Masterson said: “We totally support the development of a more joined-up system covering all levels of qualification in relevant disciplines. The GAI’s diploma and CPD programme provides a professional and up-to-date qualification which demonstrates an individual’s ability to specify architectural ironmongery – a critical life safety element of any building – to a high level. We believe the GAI can play an active role in supporting this aspect of the Hackitt review.”

The Independent Review has also said that during its next phase of work it will conduct further research into the potential for Building Information Modelling (BIM) to improve the documentation and handover of essential fire safety information.

The Guild has just released 35 BIM product data templates to its members so they can provide Product Data Sheets to deliver their product information in a structured manner to architects and contractors.