Arup to aid Persimmon with fire-safety response

23 January 2020 3 min. read
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Specialist consultant Arup has been appointed to assess fire-safety issues in the new homes of Persimmon, following a damning report into the house-builder. An independent report criticised Persimmon over its systemic, nationwide failing regarding missing or incorrectly installed cavity barriers on its timber-frame properties, which are essential to slow the spread of fires.

Over the last three years, the fire-safety of countless homes across the UK has been called into question. Following the infamous Grenfell tower fire in which 71 people lost their lives, 127 buildings with the ACM cladding which hastened the spread of the fire have been moving for remediation work to remove it. However, many landlords are reluctant to invest in the safety of their tenants, meaning there are still 319 high-rise residential and publicly-owned buildings across England cloaked in the combustible material.

Residents hoping to avoid such dangers by buying instead of renting have also been repeatedly failed by the UK’s housing market. A block built in Worcester Park in south-west London by the Berkley Group burned down in September 2019. According to the BBC, apparent flaws in two more Berkley Group buildings allowed the fire to spread quickly, while the property’s developer said all properties had been "independently signed off."

Arup to aid Persimmon with fire-safety response

At the beginning of 2020, trust in the housing sector took a further knock, with the publishing of a damning report on the building practices of Persimmon. An independent report commissioned by Persimmon and carried out by Stephanie Barwise, QC, found that the UK’s second biggest house-builder had a “systemic, nationwide” problem, having missed or incorrectly installed cavity barriers on its timber-frame properties across the UK.

According to industry news site, cavity barriers are critical to slowing the spread of fires and the lack of such barriers was cited as a crucial factor in the recent fire at Worcester Park in South London. While Persimmon has attempted to save face by claiming this is an industry-wide problem, the firm has also had to hastily devise a group construction policy that includes appropriate supervision and training of construction staff.

As part of this process, Persimmon has engaged consultants from specialist advisory firm Arup to support the change. Arup will now work as a fire engineer at Persimmon to ensure the beleaguered firm “correctly identified the extent and nature of the problem in existing properties, and is taking the necessary steps to rectify any issues,” while also working to ensure that homes built in the future are fire-safe.

A spokesperson from Persimmon said, “Persimmon fully accepts that there has been a failing in the overall supervision and inspection regime which includes its own internal processes… Persimmon commissioned the review to provide a transparent and objective review of the action we are taking to improve areas such as build quality. The wide range of measures we have introduced together with the action we are proposing are intended to ensure that build quality problems are addressed.”