The Welsh Government has initiated a public consultation regarding updated fire safety standards for high-rise buildings, in response to the prohibition of certain combustible materials in 2018.

Propertymark, the professional body for the property sector, has endorsed the consultation while also voicing worries about the safety of residents in current apartment buildings.

It says: “We are perplexed about the rationale behind leaving existing flats out of the latest proposals.”

Propertymark suggests that the updated rules should apply to all structures deemed ‘high-risk,’ irrespective of their construction date or size.

This proposal encompasses the installation of Evacuation Alert Systems (EAS), Secure Information Boxes, and directional signs in apartment buildings where the floor level is 11 meters or higher from the ground.
Such measures would aid both firefighters and occupants in the event of a fire.

Propertymark has also proposed that the current ban on flammable cladding, which the consultation aims to extend to hotels, hostels, and boarding houses, should be broadened to include other frequently used non-residential structures like office buildings.

The organisation says:

“While we understand that there is a reduced occupancy overnight, bringing high-use buildings up to similar standards would further protect the safety of occupants.”

Furthermore, Propertymark advises that a certified fire risk assessor should be mandated to review properties shorter than 11 metres to ascertain if the new rules are applicable. This fire risk assessment would take into account elements like planning limitations, evacuation pathways, and fire hazards.

Propertymark is now calling on the Welsh Government to heed its input and incorporate current apartment buildings into the fire safety overhaul.

It says:

“We support many of the proposals made in the consultation, however, we urge for an even greater impact on fire safety and across existing flats.”