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An investigation into the construction industry’s view on fire prevention in high-rise buildings post Grenfell

Iman Farah Mohamed (Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment, Birmingham City University, Birmingham, UK)
David John Edwards (Faculty of Computing, Engineering and the Built Environment (CEBE), Birmingham School of the Built Environment, Birmingham City University, Birmingham, UK)
Monica Mateo-Garcia (Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment, Birmingham City University, Birmingham, UK)
Glenn Costin (School of Architecture and Built Environment, Faculty of Science Engineering and Built Environment, Deakin University, Geelong, Australia)
Wellington Didibhuku Didibhuku Thwala (Department of Construction Management and Quantity Surveying, University of JohannesburgDoornfontein Campus, Doornfontein, South Africa)

International Journal of Building Pathology and Adaptation

ISSN: 2398-4708

Article publication date: 13 November 2019

Issue publication date: 28 April 2020

2101

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore contemporary attitudes amongst UK construction professionals regards fire safety post the Grenfell Tower disaster. Specifically, the research examines practitioner’s perceptions of fire safety design, material specification, construction and maintenance of high-rise blocks throughout a building’s whole life cycle.

Design/methodology/approach

A multi-methodology approach was adopted that utilises a mix of research methods. Extant literature and media content is used as a secondary data source, providing a more insightful interpretivist analysis – the results of which guided the development of the survey’s main question set. Primary survey data are sourced from structured interviews and questionnaires completed by participating industry professionals and built environment undergraduate students using non-representative sampling methods. In addition, a Grenfell Tower special advisory panel member was interviewed to add further validity to the overall findings.

Findings

The quantitative findings present evidence to suggest that the Grenfell disaster (and media storm that has surrounded this event) has raised the general level of fire safety knowledge and competency amongst construction professionals. However, qualitative feedback from the special advisory panel member suggests specific fire prevention knowledge remains elusive within both industry and taught programmes at Higher Education Institutes. As a consequence, changes in the taught curriculum are proposed together with an extension of the role of facilities managers in practice to cover fire safety in greater depth.

Originality/value

This paper provides thoughtful insights into the contemporary discourse on fire safety within the UK construction industry. The research also provides critical suggestions to both industry and policy makers which seek to prevent a repeat tragedy occurring again.

Keywords

Citation

Mohamed, I.F., Edwards, D.J., Mateo-Garcia, M., Costin, G. and Thwala, W.D.D. (2020), "An investigation into the construction industry’s view on fire prevention in high-rise buildings post Grenfell", International Journal of Building Pathology and Adaptation, Vol. 38 No. 3, pp. 451-471. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJBPA-05-2019-0048

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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