Public register of fire risk assessments

Part of Fire Safety Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 3:00 pm ar 25 Mehefin 2020.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Sarah Jones Sarah Jones Shadow Minister (Home Office) 3:00, 25 Mehefin 2020

It is good to get these things right.

I welcome the two new clauses proposed by the hon. Member for St Albans, who speaks for the Liberal Democrats. We are coming from the same place and we all accept that having fire risk assessors who are not necessarily qualified in any way is completely unacceptable. We need to get to grips with that for many reasons, including those that she mentioned.

The register of fire risk assessments is slightly challenging because it would take a long time to get the assessments, to get it up and running and to get it done. That may be something for the future, but not now. Having a public register of fire risk assessors is a way of dealing with the problem. It is similar to our new clause 7, which is about having an accreditation system for fire risk assessors. That is probably one of the most important elements of our concern, and it was raised by Members on both sides of the House on Second Reading. I raised that concern in a conversation with the Minister and Lord Greenhalgh when I was first appointed, and I know that the Government are looking at it.

It is remarkable that there is currently no legal duty to have any kind of qualification before becoming a fire risk assessor. It could be argued that some parts of the role are relatively straightforward, such as checking whether there are obstructions in the way of fire exits. The Bill introduces the need for an understanding of the nature of cladding; what it is made of and how it works. There is absolutely no way someone could assess that without being qualified.

Concerns have been raised for many years about private sector involvement, lack of qualification and a “race to the bottom” mentality. The fact that anyone can set up as a fire risk assessor to assess schools or care homes cannot be defended.