The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has said that the retrofitting of sprinklers should be made mandatory in all tower block refurbishments, in response to the government’s building regulations review. This follows the devastating fire at Grenfell Tower that occurred in June of this year.
RIBA also demanded a “clearer, prescriptive and design process-driven guidance” in approved document B and that external walls of buildings more than 18 m high should be constructed of non-combustible (European class A1) materials only.
The £8.7m refurbishment of the tower, overseen by contractor Rydon, included the installation of Reynobond PE cladding over PIR insulation boards – a system that has come under intense scrutiny by the media and the public for its role in the fire.
Documents produced by the BBC earlier in the summer presented that the fireproof zinc cladding specified in the original 2012 planning application was demoted to a cheaper aluminium panelling system to save around £300,000.
RIBA urged the review team to also “give significant consideration to the impact of procurement decisions and allocation of project responsibilities on project quality and safety, and the role of clients in ensuring independent scrutiny of construction work”.
Jane Duncan, former RIBA president and chair of the RIBA Expert Advisory Group on Fire Safety, said that while the group welcomed the chance to submit evidence to the review, it felt the remit could have been “more comprehensive, addressing the details of Building Regulations guidance as well as the broader regulatory system”.