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Members’ Update – Fire Legislation

December 2023

KeyOstas Members

Following on from the events of the Grenfell Incident and subsequent review by Dame Judith Hackitt, there has been some significant legislation changes to be aware of which we felt may be of use to you all in future (please see below).


Fire Safety Act 2021

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 of a multi-occupied residential building. If you are a Responsible Person, you must consider these parts when conducting fire risk assessments, if you have not done so already.

Useful link: Fire Safety Act 2021 – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022
The Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 implemented the majority of the recommendations made by the Grenfell Tower Inquiry in its Phase 1 report which required a change in the law.

The regulations seek to improve the fire safety of blocks of flats in ways which are practical, cost effective for individual leaseholders and proportionate to the risk of fire.

The regulations came into force on 23 January 2023 following publication of guidance which was published on 6 December 2022.

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

  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. install wayfinding signage in all high-rise buildings which is visible in low light conditions
  4. 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
  5. 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:

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

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

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

Useful link: Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Section 156 of the Building Safety Act 2022
Section 156 of the Building Safety Act 2022 (BSA) makes a number of amendments to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (FSO) to improve fire safety in all buildings regulated by the FSO. These improvements form Phase 3 of the Home Office’s fire safety reform programme, building on Phase 1 (the Fire Safety Act 2021) and Phase 2 (the Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022).

Phase 3 further strengthens fire safety in all FSO regulated premises by:

  1. improving cooperation and coordination between Responsible Persons (RPs)
  2. increasing requirements in relation to the recording and sharing of fire safety information thus creating a continual record throughout a building’s lifespan
  3. making it easier for enforcement authorities to take action against non-compliance
  4. ensuring residents have access to comprehensive information about fire safety in their building

Useful link: Check your fire safety responsibilities under Section 156 of the Building Safety Act 2022 – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Fire Safety Guidance Updates
3 new fire safety guides on small non-domestic premises, small blocks of flats and for small sleeping accommodation have been introduced and replace the old short guide to making your premises safe from fire.
Also there has been an update to the fire risk assessment 5 Steps checklist and all other fire safety risk assessment guidance.

Useful link: Fire safety: guidance for those with legal duties – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Updated guidance on competence for persons undertaking Fire Risk Assessments (Home Office Guidance)

It is for responsible persons to meet their legal obligations under the FSO and in that context they should decide who should carry out a fire risk assessment for their building(s). It is important that the person undertaking the fire risk assessment is competent, including for the assessment of external walls. For example, assessing whether the external wall materials are combustible is a specialist discipline and requires competent specialist assessors. The responsible person should establish the competence of the assessors prior to appointment.

The Fire Sector Federation makes available guidance on how to select a competent fire risk assessor. Fire and rescue authorities do not undertake fire risk assessments on behalf of the responsible person. However, fire and rescue authorities may give responsible persons advice (upon request) about how to identify the help they might need as well as give advice on general fire safety matters. The Fire Sector Federation makes available guidance on how to select a competent fire risk assessor.

The demand for competent professionals to update fire risk assessments will be understandably high in the months following commencement of the Fire Safety Act 2021. To prioritise demand on competent professionals, it is important that priority is given to the buildings deemed highest priority. To help with this, the Fire Risk Assessment Prioritisation Tool has been developed and further detail on this is in the following section.

For buildings with combustible external wall materials in the medium to very high priority categories (Tiers 1-3), the assessor should be part of a professional body that is within a scheme able to demonstrate third party accreditation or validation, from the UK Accreditation Service (UKAS) or UK Engineering Council (EngC). The assessor should also be conversant with and able to apply the “Fire Risk Appraisal of External Wall Construction and Cladding of existing blocks of flats – Code of Practice” (the PAS9980). This Code of Practice provides advice on the risk of fire spread via external wall construction and sets out a methodology for competent professionals to conduct and record fire risk appraisals of external walls.

Useful links:

  1. Fire_Safety_Act_Article_50_guidance.pdf (publishing.service.gov.uk)
  2. A Pathway to Competency for Fire Risk Assessors  – Fire Sector Federation

Updated guidance on enforcement and sanctions for non-compliance in relation to the RR(FS)O 2005

The guide explains how the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (as amended) (“the FSO”) is enforced and advises of the sanctions that are available to Enforcing Authorities if you fail to comply with this legislation.
This guide has been published by the Secretary of State under Article 50 of the FSO to assist responsible persons in meeting their duties under the FSO.

Useful link: Fire Safety Order: enforcement and sanctions for non-compliance – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

If you have any questions at all regarding any of this then please don’t hesitate to contact us.