Dr Kieran Mullan, Member of Parliament for Crewe and Nantwich, has urged the Government to learn lessons from the fire at the Beechmere Retirement Complex, in 2019, when implementing new building safety regulations.
In a recent Westminster Hall debate on reducing fire risk in high rise buildings, Kieran highlighted that while much attention is rightly focused on improving fire safety in high rise buildings, following the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower in 2017, opportunities must not be missed to improve fire safety more widely. Kieran pointed out the concerns that have been raised regarding timber-framed buildings, and the impact that this construction method has on the ability to control a fire and urged for additional safety measures to be put into place to mitigate this risk.
Speaking in the debate Kieran said, “The use of timber in buildings has increased enormously in popularity in recent decades, because it is seen as being more eco-friendly than other materials, and certainly there will be social housing developments that are made from timber-framed buildings.
“I urge the Government to go further by mandating additional safety measures for timber buildings, beyond those that apply just to buildings of a certain height and to buildings with timber in external walls.” Kieran also pushed for additional requirements, such as the mandatory implementation of sprinklers, for buildings of certain uses, such as schools and those housing the vulnerable.
In the debate, he said, “We have to think more carefully about restrictions based on building use. It is proportionate to make specific mandated additional requirements for buildings such as schools, care homes and social housing complexes that house vulnerable people, when we know that people will struggle to evacuate. One such requirement would be for sprinklers. I and my colleagues on the all-party parliamentary group on fire safety and rescue have highlighted that automatic fire sprinklers are compulsory in new care homes in Wales and Scotland but not in England, and the same is true of schools.”
Kieran is continuing to seek answers from the Beechmere fire investigation for those that lost their homes and belongings in the blaze. He regularly meets with Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service to push it to conclude its investigation, but also understands why they want to take their time to make sure that if anybody needs to be held to account, they are.