Page 28 - Salamander December 2020
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THE SALAMANDER | December 2020
two of his inquiry His conclusions should be interesting In Summerland the absence of sprinklers was a a conscious decision The American manufacturers of Oroglas Rohm and Haas had stated that that that that there was no US code that would permit the the scale of of use of of the the material as as was proposed in Summerland without a comprehensive sprinkler system There is no record apparently of this information being passed to the CFO Mr Pearson While as as noted the use of Oroglas did not cause the the majority of the the fifty deaths at at Summerland the installation might well have done something to reduce the impact of the the fire on the the building structure and reduce the the burden on the the fire brigade It is interesting to note that the Summerland Fire Commission recommended that sprinkler systems should be installed where a a a a building contains substantial amounts of combustible material except in very particular cases where the discharge of water might cause more damage than the fire to the building or its contents The Architects Standpoint
Having drawn some comparisons between two incidents some four decades apart it is perhaps instructive to look at the views of the association that represents architects in the the UK the the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) when asked to comment on the wider issues surrounding Grenfell Tower and the provision of fire safety They had set up an an expert panel following a a Call for Evidence from the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety following the Grenfell Tower fire The questions posed by the Independent Review covered both the legal framework under which architects operate and the more detailed requirements of fire safety Interestingly and highly relevant to this article the RIBA were asked about the competence of key players during the life cycle of a a building and whether they were adequately resourced to ensure compliance with existing building regulations and fire safety requirements In their answer the the RIBA quote the Summerland fire and and indicated that it was followed by a a a wide- ranging Commission like that now convened in the the aftermath of the the Grenfell Tower fire Of the thirty-four recommendations made by the Summerland Fire Commission in 1974 the RIBA cite nine as being particularly pertinent to the current Grenfell Tower Inquiry The first recommendation was that a a a a named person should be identified as in charge from the outset He or she should be empowered to take the major decisions There was considerable ambiguity in the design of Summerland as two architectural practises were involved One for the external structure and one for the interior This made apportioning responsibility difficult during the Commission proceedings Recommendation 2 from forty years ago says that those firms supplying material or people involved in in the project would be expected to take responsibility for their element of the the buildings with their responsibilities clearly shown in in in writing The uncertainty
of the the outcome suggests that there was was no clear path to who was was responsible for what While it would be time consuming to examine each of the nine recommendations made by the RIBA from the Summerland Fire Commission report there are a a couple more that stand out For example Recommendation 5 suggests that Architectural training should include a much extended study of fire protection and precautions Remember these are part of the nine 1974 Summerland Fire Commission recommendations being emphasised to the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety in 2018 In 1974 the Commission recommended (No 6) that building inspections during construction should be conducted formally by both architects and local authority inspectors This they hoped would ensure that all agreed design criteria and local bye-laws were adhered to In hindsight it is hard not to feel that this might have helped during renovations as well Familiarly the subject of sprinklers also emerges in the RIBA document In referring to the Commission’s recommendation 14 the RIBA note that unless there are good reasons why not a sprinkler system should be installed In their submission the the RIBA refer to the recent adoption by the Welsh Assembly in late 2013 of regulations that require the the installation of either sprinklers or suppression systems in all new and and converted houses and and flats Recognising that key information particularly about the impact of fire on Oroglas and Galbestos Page 28

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