Yesterday (27th February) I attended the RIBA's Fire Safety Breakfast seminar. A number of guest speakers (all experts in their own specialist fields) discussed the future for fire safety following the publication last December of Dame Judith Hackitt's interim report, 'Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety'.
There was much discussion about the building regulations and the published guidance; about the need to ensure the design of buildings takes into account the need for fire safety; about how to check that what is designed is actually built; about how to reform the regulations, or, perhaps more correctly, the published guidance; and much more. The proceedings were being videoed so you should be able to view them in your own time. It should be worth your while.
One topic of discussion was fire safety in hospitals and other social care institutions such as nursing homes. It is sobering, therefore, that almost 50 years ago to the day of the RIBA seminar, fire was the cause of a human tragedy (24 died) in one such institution in Shrewsbury, Shropshire.
Fifty years ago this week Shrewsbury was the scene of one of the worst hospital fires in British history. . The tragedy at Shelton Hospital led to a national outcry and changes to fire safety in major institutions and improved training for staff. Choking smoke filled two wards of the women's wing after the fire broke out at the psychiatric hospital on February 26, 1968.