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Fire safety for government HQ focus of scrutiny

The office of the Department for Communities and Local Government, which is responsible for fire safety legislation in England and Wales, is being scrutinized after an incident where glazing allegedly gave way in the atrium of the building.

In 2010, info4fire reported that Eland House in Westminster was the object of enforcement action in February of that year. Inspectors dispatched to the location had observed several breaches of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order. The breaches should have been dealt with by June 2010, according to a statement made by Bob Neill, the Fire Minister.

According to a report released last week, a source indicated that the building had two hundred faults, and many of these were described as being “significant”. The report also claims that a repeat instance of the building’s glazing falling away occurred recently. The incident, which took place on a weekend, required a prompt inspection that identified further weaknesses.

DCLG stated they were unable to state whether the failed glazing had been linked to fire safety concerns. The spokesperson confirmed that no enforcement action has been taken or was being considered by the Crown Premises Inspection Group. This decision is in contrast to the actions taken last year. “DCLG commissioned a fire risk assessment (FRA) for Eland House in 2010 using an external specialist to ensure a competent review of fire management systems, he stated. “All actions raised within this FRA have subsequently been addressed. A subsequent risk assessment, carried out in May 2011 by a different external specialist identified further items for action and additional recommendations. The department is currently addressing each of these items with only five of 22 actions remaining. The department is currently working with its facilities management supplier to ensure the remaining items are completed in a cost effective manner.”