Fire Safety Legislation Changes
Following on from the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy in June 2017, The Government brought the Fire Safety Bill to Parliament to scrutinise and to enact into law. The bill became law on the 29th April 2021 when it became the Fire Safety Act 2021.
The Fire Safety Act 2021 is a relatively small piece of legislation however it holds significance for organisations involved in assessing and insuring fire safety risks, the Fire Safety Act 2021 came into force on the 16th May 2022 in England and the 1st October 2021 in Wales.
The Fire Safety Act 2021 applies to England and Wales, whereas Scotland and Northern Ireland have separate fire safety legislation in place.
What does the Fire Safety Act 2021 Do?
Prior to 2021, the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (FSO) governed fire safety in England and Wales. This legislation had replaced over 70 pieces of legislation. The Fire Safety Act 2021 amends the FSO with the intention of improving fire safety.
The new Act clarifies that, in addition to general responsibilities under The Fire Safety Order, responsible persons for buildings containing two or more domestic premises must manage and reduce the risk of fire for the structure and external walls of the building, including cladding, balconies and windows, and entrance doors to individual flats that open onto common parts.
What are the Provisions of the Act?
The Fire Safety Act 2021 applies to all multi-occupied residential buildings and is not dependent on the height of the building. The Act goes further and provides English and Welsh Ministers with a regulation-making power to amend the type of buildings the Order applies to in the future.
As the FSO is still in enshrined in it designates those in control of premises as the Responsible Person for fire safety; giving them a duty to undertake assessments and manage risks. The new Act requires all Responsible Persons to reduce, as well as to assess and manage, the fire risks posed by the structure and external walls of the building and by individual doors opening onto common parts of the building.
The FSO was enforced by fire and rescue authorities, but the Act allows these authorities to enforce against non-compliance in relation to the external walls and the individual doors opening onto the common parts of the premises.
The Fire Safety Act 2021 also introduces the concept of ‘risk-based guidance’ in order to support a proportionate approach towards assessing risk.
The Fire Safety Act 2021 implements recommendations made by Sir Martin Moore-Bick in his Phase 1 report in the Grenfell Tower Inquiry and the conclusions of Dame Judith Hackitt’s Review of Building Regulation and Fire Safety.
The Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022
On January 23rd, 2023, further regulations and responsibilities come into force in England alone. The new regulations are entitled the Fire Safey (England) Regulations 2022. The new set of Regulations seek to improve fire safety of high-rise residential buildings. They have come about because of the recommendations made by the Grenfell Tower Inquiry in its Phase 1 report.
The regulations require the Responsible Person of a multi-occupied residential building take specific action depending on the height of the building.
Multiple occupation residential buildings of at least 18 metres in height or 7 or more storeys, the Responsible Person will need to:
Provide the fire and rescue services with electronic copies of building floor plans and keep hard copies of those plans in a secure information box accessible by firefighters.
External wall Systems:
Provide the fire and rescue services with information about the building’s external wall system and provide updates if there are material changes to these walls.
Lifts and Fire-Fighting equipment:
Undertake monthly checks on fire and evacuation lifts and other firefighting equipment and inform the fire and safety services if a lift used by firefighters or firefighting equipment is out of order for longer than 24 hours.
Install and maintain a secure information box containing the name and UK contact details of the responsible person and hard copies of building floor plans.
Install way finding signage which is visible in low light conditions showing flat and floor numbers in the stairwells.
Multiple occupation residential buildings over 11 metres in height, the Responsible Person will need to:
Undertake quarterly checks on all communal fire doors, and make annual checks on flat entrance doors.
All Multiple occupation residential buildings with communal areas, Responsible Persons will need to:
Provide residents with relevant fire safety instructions and information about the importance of fire doors.
In summary the changes to the Fire Safety legislation on the whole focus on multiple occupation buildings, and we hope that this overview helps in the understanding of how the law has changed and how it affects you and your businesses.