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Fire Safety Act regulations published 26/05/2022 Labelled as Regulation

As heralded in a previous article the Home Office on 18 May announced the commencement of the Fire Safety Act 2021 which will make sure all blocks of flats are properly assessed for fire safety risks and the Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 which will help ensure people feel safe in their homes.

 

These legislative changes will meet many of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry Phase 1 recommendations for fire safety improvements in multi-occupied residential buildings including duties on building owners to ensure that fire and rescue services have the information they need to plan their response to a fire in a high-rise building and imposing a minimum frequency for checks on all fire doors in mid and high-rise blocks of flats.

 

The regulations will come into force on 23 January 2023 following the publication of supporting guidance which is due later in 2022.

 

In summary, for high-rise residential buildings (a multi-occupied residential building at least 18 metres in height or 7 or more storeys), "responsible persons" must:

 

  • share electronically with their local fire and rescue service (FRS) information about the building's external wall system and provide the FRS with electronic copies of floor plans and building plans for the building
  • keep hard copies of the building's floor plans, in addition to a single page orientation plan of the building, and the name and UK contact details of the responsible person in a secure information box which is accessible by firefighters
  • install wayfinding signage in all high-rise buildings which is visible in low light conditions
  • establish a minimum of monthly checks on lifts which are for the use of firefighters in high-rise residential buildings and on essential pieces of firefighting equipment
  • inform the FRS if a lift used by firefighters or one of the pieces of firefighting equipment is out of order for longer than 24 hours

 

For multi-occupied residential buildings over 11 metres in height, responsible persons must:

 

  • undertake quarterly checks on all communal fire doors and annual checks on flat entrance doors

 

In all multi-occupied residential buildings, responsible persons must:

 

  • provide residents with relevant fire safety instructions and information about the importance of fire doors

 

The Fire Safety Act clarifies the scope of the Fire Safety Order to make clear it applies to the structure, external walls (including cladding and balconies) and individual flat entrance doors between domestic premises and the common parts.

The "Responsible Person" is the person who is responsible for the safety of themselves and others who use premises regulated under the Fire Safety Order. This is normally a building owner, or in residential properties, any other person in control of the premises. The responsible person is the person on whom most of the duties set out in the Fire Safety Order are imposed. Further information on the fire safety responsibilities of the Responsible Person & Duty Holder can be found on the Home Office website.

 

The Home Office has published a series of "Factsheets" to accompany the Regulations including:

 

  • An overview of the new duties
  • Secure Information Boxes
  • Design of materials of external walls
  • Floor plans & building plan
  • Lifts & essential fire-fighting equipment
  • Wayfinding signage
  • Information to residents
  • Fire doors

 

These factsheets are available on the Home Office website.

 

The Regulations do not include the implementation of Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans (PEEPs) but the government has responded to earlier consultations on PEEPs and has launched a new consultation on an alternative package of proposals to support the fire safety of residents whose ability to self-evacuate may be compromised.

 

This includes a new proposal known as "Emergency Evacuation Information Sharing which would require designated "Responsible Persons" - individuals responsible for fire safety in their building - of the highest risk buildings to assess the needs of their most vulnerable residents and consider what might reasonably be done to mitigate any risks to fire safety. The consultation closes on 10 August 2022.

 

Fire and Rescue Services will also be required to be provided with up-to-date information on where these residents live within the building to inform their operational strategy and prioritise resources to further assist and effect the evacuation of these residents in the event of fire.

 

The announcement of the Fire Safety Act Regulations are accompanied by a Fire Reform White Paper setting out what the Government describe as the "most comprehensive plans for fire reform in decades which will help strengthen the emergency services and seek to ensure people feel safer in their homes".

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