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Post Construction Fire Safety Regulation in England: Shutting the Door Before the Horse has Bolted

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Original languageEnglish
JournalPolicy and Practice in Health and Safety
Early online date5 Apr 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 Apr 2019


A challenge in preventing fire disasters is that fires with severe consequences are rare. The history of fire safety has been to respond to such disasters through ‘stable door’ regulation, fixing the specific cause of the latest major disaster, but not necessarily addressing systemic failures in the broader fire safety system. This paper argues that a range of evidence exists that should be used in developing fire safety policy, and that reliance on annual statistics of deaths alone to guide policy may fail to address failings that can be inferred from other types of data. Qualitative data should not be ignored simply because they appear complex and subjective. Rather, consideration should be given to establishing a methodology for integrating the use of a range of evidence in fire safety policy governance. It is further suggested that UK post-construction fire safety regulation is inconsistent in a number of important ways, and that serious failings in fire safety are not being addressed by the existing regulatory mechanisms.

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