Following publication of Dame Judith Hackitt’s interim report into the Building Regulations and Fire Safety, Peter Wilkinson the Chairman of the IFE Board of Directors has issued the following statement;
The Institution of Fire Engineers (IFE) welcomes Dame Judith Hackitt’s interim report into the Building Regulations and Fire Safety, to which we contributed. Members of the IFE wholeheartedly agree with Dame Judith’s main findings and are preparing to contribute to the next stage of this critical work. As an organisation set up 100 years ago to help further the science of fire safety, we know better than most that freedom of design and choice of
materials, today more than ever before, require buildings to be designed, constructed, approved and managed by
persons with an appropriate understanding of the behaviour of fire, of buildings on fire, and of human behaviour in
We particularly welcome the view expressed by Dame Judith that we should not be planning to introduce
prescription to building design, but that one key area of improvement should be that such design freedoms are
only permitted to competent professionals. The IFE view professional ethics and competencies to be essential
elements of a goal based design framework that delivers effective safety (including fire safety), and those attributes
are already demonstrated by diligent members of professional bodies, such as the IFE. We look forward to working
with our colleagues in the wider construction sector, the fire and rescue services, Building Control Bodies, and
other health and safety professionals, to identify a route to successfully manage the imposition of reasonable
requirements for appropriate and demonstrable competencies and ethical practice at all critical stages of the
building process, and over its lifetime.
The IFE is also preparing to support further exploration of a means for the fire sector to take ownership of technical
standards, and also to provide a mechanism for residents or others affected by fire safety provision to gain
assurance and confidence that they are indeed safe, and to provide a route to raise queries or concerns if needed.
The independence provided by the IFE as a registered charity, created specifically to help protect people from fire,
places it in a unique position to help change the culture, maintain the body of knowledge and assure the competence
and ethics of its professional members.
The awful tragedy at Grenfell and the subsequent identification of inappropriate construction has given impetus to
Dame Judith’s review. It has also removed complacency about the importance of having an effective fire safety
system. When the IFE was formed in 1918 the founders would never have imagined that great successes in terms
of fire prevention and reducing life loss could be so quickly eclipsed by systemic failure. We can and must learn
from high impact industries, both in the UK and around the world, to re-engineer our system to make it fit for
Peter Wilkinson EngD CEng FIFireE
Chairman, IFE Board of Directors
For further information on the IFE visit www.ife.org.uk
Image shows the Grenfell Tower. Photograph from Editors Library.