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New fire safety checks for apartment blocks to be rolled out soon

We’ve written several Advantage blogs about how the Grenfell Tower fire has driven calls for more stringent fire safety regulations, and we’re beginning to see some of that talk turning into action, as new fire safety checks for apartments are about to be rolled out.

As reported by Insurance Business UK: surveyors and banks are preparing to roll-out new fire safety checks for apartment blocks. However, it is not yet clear whether insurers are prepared to provide personal indemnity insurance for inspectors carrying out the checks.

While not a legal requirement, the new checks – for apartment blocks that are more than six storeys high – are part of an effort to alleviate concerns about fire safety brought about by 2017’s Grenfell Tower fire, which killed 72 people.

However, Nigel Glen, chief executive of the Association of Residential Managing Agents, told the Financial Times that insurers, increasingly concerned about fire risk, would still need to provide workable levels of personal indemnity insurance for assessors.

“If the PI insurance market does clam up then the assessors won’t be allowed to assess,” said Glen, adding that some freeholders may not be contractually allowed to pass the cost of the certificates on to leaseholders.

In 2018, thousands of high-rise flats became unsellable after the government’s new fire safety advice left surveyors unwilling to attach value to high-rise apartments without some form of certification.

As developers and insurers seek to respond to more stringent fire safety rules following the Grenfell Tower fire, the head of the fire services watchdog says he is “alarmed” by the number of buildings that still have Grenfell-style cladding.

As reported by ITV, Sir Thomas Winsor, chief inspector at Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services, said it was “alarming” that, more than two years after the Grenfell fire, more than 300 buildings still had the same cladding as the tower.

“Remedial work to remove similar cladding systems, including rain screens with polyethene cores, should be done by the building owners as quickly as possible,” Sir Thomas said.

“No other fire service should have to tackle a blaze of such severity because of these unsafe materials.”

Sir Thomas’s comments were made in his first annual assessment of all 45 fire and rescue services in England.

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While not a legal requirement, the new checks – for apartment blocks that are more than six storeys high – are part of an effort to alleviate concerns about fire safety brought about by 2017’s Grenfell Tower fire, which killed 72 people…

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