RICS Program Behind on Fire-Safety Training

13 Nov 2021, by Anthony in Fire Safety Training

Since the beginning of 2021, only 50 of the planned 2,000 fire-safety surveyors have been trained. The original roadmap aimed to have 200 trained and ready after the first month, 900 after three, and 2,000 after six.

During the November 4th House of Lords debate, Lord Greenhalgh, Minister of State, Home Office and Department for Levelling Up, Housing ; Communities, revealed this information along with the fact that over 900 are currently taking the course.

Similar courses are offered at the I.T.S.S.A.R (Independent Training Standards Scheme and Register) accredited Manchester-based company, Pro Trainers UK, which specialises in fire assessment and training.

This was revealed in response to Lord Stunell’s statement earlier in the debate that the plans behind the Fire Safety Act and Building Safety Bill are insufficient in many ways as well as being implemented far too slowly.

The program, initiated by the RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors), has £700,000 in funding for training. The assessors are being trained to complete ESW1 (External Wall System) inspections that have been required for buildings above 18 meters. 

There has been some confusion about whether the ESW1 is required for buildings below 18 meters. Lord Greenhalgh informed the House of Lords that a collection of experts, which includes Dame Judith Hackitt, have ruled in the negative regarding the requirement.

Still, any buildings that don’t follow the safety rules will need to be updated to comply.

The ESW1 is required during a valuation in order for homeowners to sell their building. It is this low number of trained surveyors that is claimed as the reasoning behind why some leaseholders were unable to sell.

Lord Stunell briefly touched on this topic saying that the number of trained individuals capable of performing the survey was so low that there was and still is a massive backlog.

He went on to say that the RCIS program to train new assessors was a stopgap measure and inquired about the status of the proposed ESW1 replacement, PAS 9980.

Other related aspects

In the same House of Lords debate, Lord Young called for a benevolent intervention on behalf of the leaseholders of buildings that are not compliant with fire safety rules.

 His proposal was for a levy laid at the feet of those who originally built the faulty buildings that would amount to £5 billion. This is just half of the estimated £10 billion shortfall from the Government’s current proposal.

Lord Young proposed that the other £5 billion come straight from the Treasury so that the bill does not fall at the feet of the leaseholders who had no hand in the construction of the defective flats.

This is in opposition to the Government’s proposal which details a plan to have residential developers pay a tax of 4% on all profits above a £25 million margin. This plan would collect a little more than £1 billion in half a decade.

Lord Greenhalgh later corrected his friend Lord Young. Instead of raising to £1 billion the levy would raise to £2 billion.

 

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