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ARB sets out strategic statement on fire and life-safety

July 20, 2020 | News Release

Alongside the Government’s publication of the draft Building Safety Bill today (Monday 20 July), the Architects Registration Board (ARB) has published a statement of intent regarding its work to improve fire and life-safety competence standards among architects.

The strategic statement confirms four key actions:

1. Standard 2.4 of the ARB Code of Conduct and Practice provides that architects are expected to keep their knowledge and skills relevant to their professional work up-to-date and to be aware of the content of any guidelines issued by ARB. ARB is preparing new guidelines setting out the competences expected of architects specifically in relation to fire and life-safety design.

2. For educational institutions offering ARB prescribed qualifications and/or seeking prescription of a new one, ARB will issue guidance which further clarifies its interpretation of the Criteria for the Prescription of Qualifications at Parts 1, 2 and 3 in relation to fire and life-safety. This guidance will become part of the prescription process. Institutions will need to demonstrate how they are addressing the content of the documents as part of their applications to obtain or renew prescription.

3. A comprehensive review of the competencies ARB requires of architects is already under way. This important work includes wide consultation and will consider in depth what behaviours, skills, knowledge and experience should be required of architects in relation to fire and life-safety design both before they join the Register and once they are on it.

4. Alongside that review ARB will establish a new regulatory model to ensure that the competences required of architects are maintained throughout their careers, and to explain the consequences of not doing so. The power to do this is contained in the draft Bill published today.

Marc Stoner, Acting Chief Executive of ARB, said:

We welcome the draft Building Safety Bill and we will be studying very carefully the approach being proposed by Government and the new powers being proposed for us as regulator.

“ARB is committed to protecting those impacted by architect services, including all building residents, and to supporting architects through regulation. We were therefore pleased to provide input into the work of the Competence Steering Group, including chairing Working Group 7 and contributing to the Raising the Bar report.

“One of our key responsibilities as a regulator is to prescribe the qualifications needed to become an architect, so we have already begun a fundamental review of the competences architects should have, how they should be acquired and maintained. This work will obviously also address fire and life-safety design.

“But we are aware that the risks in this area are too immediate to wait for those fundamental changes, which is why ARB is acting now. Our strategic statement sets out the next steps on this journey, including issuing guidance to colleges and schools of architecture which further clarifies our interpretation of the prescription criteria, and also providing architects on the Register with guidelines linked to ARB’s Code of Conduct.”

Alan Kershaw, Acting Chair of ARB, said:

“Fire and life-safety design issues are of central importance. Anyone engaging an architect is entitled to expect that the one they choose will have the competence to provide them with a service that will keep them safe, regardless of the type or scale of the project.

“Our objective is always to put the safety of clients and the public first. Everything flows from that. We are seeking to provide greater clarity for the profession, and we aim to ensure improved public confidence in architects’ competence in designing buildings that are safe for everyone.”

A copy of the full strategic statement from ARB can be seen here.



Notes for Editors

o The Architects Registration Board (ARB) is the statutory body established by Parliament under the Architects Act 1997 to regulate the UK architects’ profession in the public interest. Among other duties, the Act requires ARB to:

– Maintain the Architects Register
– Prescribe the qualifications needed to become an architect in the UK
– Issue a code laying down the standards of professional conduct and practice expected of architects
– Investigate allegations of unacceptable professional conduct or serious professional incompetence
– Investigate and where appropriate prosecute unregistered individuals who unlawfully call themselves an architect
– Act as the UK’s Competent Authority for architects

o ARB has a Board of 11 members all appointed by the Privy Council. This includes one independent, non-executive Chair and ten non-executive Board members made up of five members of the public and five architects.

o ARB has an Information Pack detailing its key messaging intended for use by the press and other stakeholders.

For further information please contact Kate Howlett (ARB Communications Manager) on 020 7580 5861 or by email at

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