New Legislations requiring action 12 August 2022
The Fire Safety Act 2021 and the Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022
Two pieces of legislation have been brought forward this month that impact you and your duties as a responsible person of a residential building.
The Fire Safety Act 2021 commenced on 16 May 2022. The Act amends the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. It applies to any building containing two or more domestic premises. The Fire Safety Regulations 2022 have been introduced to meet the recommendations with Phase 1 of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry.
These regulations will require action from you as they impose significant new legal requirements for responsible person. It is important you familiarise yourself with the Regulations and the legal requirements they impose. The full guidance and fact sheets have been made available by the Home Office within the Fire Safety Act commencement prioritisation guidance.
We are keen to work with you and we urge you to begin planning now to be prepared for the changes, which we expect to come fully into force on 23 January 2023.
The Fire Safety Act
The Fire Safety Act provides greater clarity on the areas which you are responsible for within the building for which you are the responsible person. You are responsible for:
- The structure and external walls of the building, including anything attached to the exterior of those walls, such as cladding, balconies and windows.
- Entrance doors to individual flats that open into common parts.
You are under the legal duty to manage and reduce the risk of fire for these parts of the building. Your fire risk assessment will need to consider these parts. When auditing your building we will need to see that these have been assessed in your fire risk assessment, or how you plan to assess these.
Fire Risk Assessment Prioritisation Tool
NFCC has supported the Home Office to produce the Fire Risk Assessment Prioritisation Tool which is available within the Fire Safety Act commencement prioritisation guidance.
The Tool is to help responsible persons develop a strategy to prioritise your buildings to update your fire risk assessments to ensure they include an assessment of the fire safety risks of external walls. It is a guide that is based on a defined set of characteristics that may apply to your building. Any other factors that may impact the overall risk of your building that are not considered in the tool, you should prioritise the review of that building's Fire Risk Assessment. The tool does not remove the need or requirement for responsible persons and fire and rescue services to act upon known or suspected risks, even where those premises are determined as low or very low priority by the tool.
Fire Safety Regulations
You should make sure you are clear on what you need to do in accordance with the regulations in time for 23 January 2023.
The regulations require Responsible Persons in multi-occupied residential buildings to take specific actions depending on the height of the building:
- Some previsions apply regardless of building height
- More actions are needed once a building reaches 11 metres
- Further requirements are introduced when a building reaches 18 metres (or 7 storeys)
The regulations make it a requirement in law for responsible persons of high-rise blocks of flats to provide information to fire and rescue services.
In all multi-occupied residential buildings with two or more sets of domestic premises, responsible persons will be required to:
- Fire Safety Instruction: You must provide clear and relevant fire safety instructions to your residents, including how to report a fire and any other instruction which sets out what a resident must do once a fire has occurred, based on the building's evacuation strategy
- Fire Door Information: You must provide residents with information relating to the importance of fire doors
In residential buildings with storeys over 11 metres in height, responsible persons will be required to:
- Fire Doors: undertake best endeavours to carry out annual checks of flat entrance doors. You must undertake quarterly checks of all fire doors in the common parts.
In high-rise residential buildings (18 metres or 7 storeys or more), responsible persons will be required to:
- Building Plans: provide Surrey Fire and Rescue Service as your local service, with up-to-date building floor plans by electronic means and to place a hard copy of these plans alongside a single page building plan which identifies key firefighting equipment, in a secure information box on site.
- External Wall Systems: You must provide us with information about the design and materials of a high-rise building's external wall system and to inform us of any material changes to these walls. They will be required to provide information in relation to the level of risk that the design and materials of the external wall structure gives rise to and any mitigating steps taken.
- Lifts and other key firefighting equipment: You must undertake monthly checks on the operation of lifts intended for use by firefighters, and evacuation lifts in your building. You must check the functionality of other key pieces of firefighting equipment. You will be required to report any defective lifts or equipment to us as soon as possible after detection and if the fault cannot be fixed within 24 hours. You must record the outcome of checks and make them available to residents.
- Secure information boxes: You must install and maintain a secure information box in the building which must contain the name and contact details of the responsible person, and hard copies of the building floor plans.
- Wayfinding signage: You must install signage visible in low light or smoky conditions that identifies flat and floor numbers in the stairwells.
In relation to the Fire Safety Act 2021, it is important that you now review the guidance about when and how to update your fire risk assessment. This has been published by the Home Office and outlines how to use the Fire Risk Assessment Prioritisation Tool to start forming your fire risk assessment review prioritisation strategies. In relation to the Fire Safety Regulations 2022, we encourage you to begin preparing your additional information to share with us by 23 January 2023 to firstname.lastname@example.org. We do not recommend you begin submitting information to us at this stage.
Further information on when to submit and the preferred format for the information is detailed within the Home Office guidance which is currently in production. This will be published in 2022 in advance of the regulations being brought into force on 23 January 2023.
The Home Office has produced a series of fact sheets which provide more detailed information on what the Regulations mean in England.
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 – and your responsibilities
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 is the biggest single reform of fire safety laws in over 30 years. It came into force on 1 October 2006, and consolidated existing fire safety laws which were scattered across more than 70 pieces of legislation.
It places the responsibility for fire safety on the employer or responsible person for a building or premises. Under the fire safety legislation, the responsible person for each premises must:
- Carry out an assessment of the risks of fire
- Take steps to reduce or remove the risk
- Tell staff or their representatives about the risks you've identified
- Put in place, and maintain, appropriate fire safety measures
- Plan for an emergency
- Provide staff information, fire safety instruction and training.
Does the order apply to my premises?
The order applies to nearly every type of building and structure. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government's guide to making your premises safe from fire provides simple and practical advice to people responsible for fire safety in small and medium sized businesses. It can be downloaded in English, Welsh, Chinese, Turkish, Urdu and Gujarati.
More information about fire safety in the workplace is available in the Enforcement section.