As we have previously reported, following the Grenfell Tower tragedy in 2017, there has been much discussion about responsibility for fire safety in multi-occupied buildings. Following much debate in parliament, on 29 April 2021, the Fire Safety Bill finally received Royal Assent and became an Act of Parliament which means it is now an important legislation in terms of fire safety - the Fire Safety Act 2021.
It is not yet clear when this Act will fully into force but agents and owners of multi-occupied buildings should familiarise themselves with the details of the Act to ensure they meet their legal requirements.
Here are some of the main changes which are included in the Act and what they will mean for people who own buildings as well as other industry sectors.
Following extensive enquiries into the circumstances around the Grenfell Tower fire it was identified that the building’s exterior was not compliant with existing regulations which resulted in the quick spread of the fire. Subsequently, the Fire Safety Bill (England and Wales) was proposed to prevent similar tragedies from taking place in multi-occupied buildings by providing clarification on who is responsible for fire safety of these buildings.
After several years of debate and amendments in Parliament, the Fire Safety Bill finally became the Fire Safety Act 2021. This act includes amendments to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (RRFSO), the Fire Safety Act 2021 including the fact that the responsible person (the duty holder or building owner) must now also manage the risk of fire for the structure and external walls of the building, including cladding, balconies and windows, entrance doors to individual flats that open up into communal areas.
The aim is to ‘empower fire services to take enforcement action and hold building owners to account if they are not compliant.’
In light of these changes, we highly recommend that responsible persons should review their fire risk assessments as soon as possible to ensure they understand the new legislation with regards to external walls and entrance doors. It’s also a good idea to implement any action required before the Fire Safety Act 2021 fully comes into force.
The new Fire Safety Act 2021 is just one change in light of the Grenfell Tower enquiry. Further changes are being planned in terms of duties and accountability of responsible persons. One of these developments will be the introduction of a Building Safety Act (currently the Building Safety Bill) which will work alongside the Fire Safety Act 2021. This draft Bill is placing greater priority on residents’ safety throughout a building’s entire life cycle and that fire safety should be considered from the initial stages of a building’s design and construction.
The draft Bill also proposes new roles to ensure people living in high-rise buildings (above 18 metres) are always safe. What’s more, a National Building Safety Regulator will be introduced and run by the Health & Safety Executive with responsibility for the safety standard of all buildings.
Before this Bill become law, architects, construction workers and property developers should make themselves aware of imminent changes to the regulatory framework and fire safety processes. The government’s aim is to make fire safety strategy is paramount right from the initial designs of a build.
At Hartson Fire, we work with owners of many buildings with multiple-occupancy as well as larger commercial premises to ensure their fire safety equipment is the correct type for that specific industry or sector and that the equipment is regularly serviced.
So, with all the proposed changes to buildings’ structures and responsibilities clearly defined, let us take the headache away when it comes to provision and servicing of your fire safety equipment. Click here or call a member of our team on the number below: