On January 23 2023, the new Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 came into force. These new rules represent the most significant changes made to fire safety law in recent years, and implement most of the recommendations of the Phase 1 report of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry.
Weeks after the Grenfell disaster, in July 2017, then Communities Secretary Sajid Javid launched an independent review of building regulations, led by engineer and senior civil servant Dame Judith Hackitt. It focused specifically on issues surrounding high-rise structures, including the regulatory system, compliance and enforcement and international regulation.
This was followed at the end of that year by an interim report calling for a ‘universal shift in culture’.
In May 2018, a final report, Building a Safer Future, an Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety, set out more than 50 government recommendations for creating a more robust regulatory system. Seven months later, the then Housing, Communities and Local Government Secretary, the late James Brokenshire, launched a plan for how to implement the Hackitt Review.
The government continues to implement new legislation following the Hackitt Review, while the Fire Safety Act 2021 (FSA 2021) came into force across England in May 2022 and now additionally applies to Wales. It clarifies the scope of the Fire Safety Order with respect to multi-occupied residential building, and offers a clearer path for prosecution and enforcement action.
The Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 also now apply, affecting residential buildings with multiple households in England and imposing separate rules for buildings over 18 and 11 metres in height, and non-high rise structures.
Buildings at least 18m tall (or with seven storeys) MUST do the following;
- Building plans: Provide their local Fire and Rescue Service with up-to-date electronic building floor plans and place a hard copy, alongside a single-page building plan identifying key firefighting equipment, in a secure information box on the premises.
- External wall systems: Tell their local fire service about the design and materials of a high-rise building’s external wall system and about any material changes to these walls. At the same time, they will have to provide details of the level of risk the design and materials of the external wall structure give rise to, plus any mitigating steps taken.
- Lifts and other fire-fighting equipment: Check the lifts firefighters would use monthly, as well as evacuation lifts. Ensure that other key pieces of firefighting equipment work. Report faulty lifts or other defective equipment to the local fire brigade as soon as possible if the fault can’t be fixed within 24 hours, record the outcome of checks and ensure display this information where residents can see it.
- Information boxes: Install and maintain a secure information box in the building. This must contain the name and contact details of the Responsible Person and paper copies of the building floor plans.
- Wayfinding signage: Install signage that’s visible in low light or smoky conditions identifying flat and floor numbers in the stairwells of relevant buildings.
Buildings taller than 11 (and high rises) MUST:
- Fire doors: Check flat entrance doors yearly and all fire doors in communal areas quarterly.
All other blocks comprising two or more flats must:
- Fire safety instructions:Provide residents with relevant fire safety instructions, including on how to report a fire, plus any other information setting out what a resident must do once a fire has broken out, based on the building’s evacuation strategy.
- Fire door information:Provide residents with information on the importance of fire doors in fire safety.
Who is the responsible person?
This is the person who is responsible for the safety of themselves and others who use a regulated premises.
It’s normally the building owner or, in residential properties, any other person in control of the premises. The responsible person is the one who must undertake most of the duties set out in the Fire Safety Order.
What is the Fire Safety Order?
This 2005 statutory instrument applies in England and Wales and places the responsibility on individuals in an organisation to carry out risk assessments to identify, manage and reduce the risk of fire.
Clearly, for the latest regulations, a key first step is knowing how high your building is, and at Oakfield we are already working with our block management clients to arrange measuring surveys so they remain on the road to full compliance. You also need to be sure you are doing all you can yourself to comply with all these regulations.
Penalties for offences under fire safety legislation include unlimited fines and/or imprisonment of senior managers for up to two years.
Talk to us if you have any questions about fire safety or check out our website: https://www.oakfield-property.co.uk/block-management/