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Second staircase mandate will build a safer tomorrow

Second staircase mandate will build a safer tomorrow

The government announced in July 2023 that there would be a change in the second staircase mandate for High-Rise Residential Buildings, reducing the required height from 30m to 18m, marking a significant shift in building safety regulations.

The announcement has led to debate within the industry, most recently resulting in a group of fire experts writing an open letter to the government calling for more clarity about the new rules.

As insurance consultants working in the construction industry, we know that regulations are always subject to change. The industry is evolving, driven by new technological advances, societal changes, and, unfortunately, sometimes by tragic events.

It is important for businesses within the sector to stay ahead of these shifts, ensuring that we are abreast of changes and able to react appropriately. The new mandate for second staircases required in buildings over 18m – a reduction from the previous 30m – gives us the chance to update you about what we know so far on this issue.

The root of change

The Grenfell Tower fire of 2017 stands as a harrowing reminder of the potential vulnerabilities inherent in buildings that aren’t fit for purpose. The tragic loss of life was a stark wake-up call, resulting in a collective outcry for substantial reforms within the industry.

There was a palpable consensus that such a tragedy should never recur, and in this climate of urgency, the Building Safety Act (BSA) was introduced.

Among the significant measures proposed, one recommendation began to gain momentum: the mandate for a second staircase in High-Rise Residential Buildings (HRRBs). An additional staircase would ensure that, in the event of a crisis, people had alternative escape routes, minimising the risk of being trapped and amplifying the chances of saving lives.

From proposal to reality

Last December, the mandate of a second staircase in high-rise buildings above 30m was announced. At first glance, it might have seemed like a simple, perhaps even an intuitive adjustment, but the profound implications of such a change were felt across the industry.

The proposition represented a broader commitment to enhancing fire safety, prioritising the well-being of residents by providing them with an added layer of security and an alternative escape route.

The requirement addressed the on-ground challenges faced by emergency responders, ensuring they had quicker, unimpeded access to the building during emergencies, which could be paramount in saving lives.

For developers and architects this posed logistical challenges and, in some cases, pausing projects that were partially complete, causing potential delays across all areas of the construction process.

Stricter proposals yet

The 30m stipulation was initially put in place in London in February 2023, followed by another significant announcement from in July 2023, where the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) announced that the height threshold for integrating a second staircase in buildings would be reduced from 30m to 18m.

The ensuing period is bound to be characterised by adjustment and adaptation, as developers, architects, and construction firms grapple with the intricacies of these fresh directives.

But beneath the immediate logistical challenges lies a core, universal ethos: an unfaltering emphasis on safety.

Protecting you in an evolving landscape

At BuildSafe we understand the importance of the changes brought in through the Building Safety Act and staying abreast of new regulations.

It is this proactive approach that sets us apart, ensuring that every project we undertake and every service we offer values the highest standards of safety and excellence.

BuildSafe’s commitment to its clients remains unaltered. We will consistently offer services that are not just in line with current industry standards but often ahead of the curve, finding bespoke insurance solutions that take new regulations into account, so you’re always covered no matter how the landscape changes.

Contact BuildSafe today to discover how you can get bespoke insurance on your construction project from providers who understand today’s regulatory demands.

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