New Fire Safety Legislation – Multi-Occupied Residential Buildings

Fire Safety Act 2021 

The Fire Safety Act 2021 (the Act) received Royal Assent on 29 April 2021 and commenced on 16 May 2022.  The Act amends the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (the Fire Safety Order). 

The Act clarifies that responsible persons (RPs) for multi-occupied residential buildings must manage and reduce the risk of fire for the structure and external walls of the building, including cladding, balconies and windows, and entrance doors to individual flats that open into common parts.

The Act applies to England and Wales. Information on how the Act applies within Wales can be found on the Welsh Government website. 

The Act clarifies the areas of a multi-occupied residential building to which the Fire Safety Order applies.   The necessary amendment to enable this was brought forward during the Bill’s passage.  

Fire Risk Assessment Prioritisation Tool

The FRAPT is an online tool designed to assist responsible persons to develop a strategy to prioritise their buildings to review their fire risk assessments, to ensure they take into account the clarifications outlined in the Act.  The Fire Safety Act 2021 was the first part of the process for the government, we now know that further legislation will be coming into effect from January 2023.

The Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 

The Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 (the Regulations) have been introduced as an important step towards implementing the recommendations of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry Phase 1 reportThe Regulations are being introduced under Article 24 of the Fire Safety Order and will come into force on 23 January 2023. 

The Regulations apply to England only. The Regulations can be found on the UK Government website.   

Most of the requirements set out in the Regulations are imposed on the responsible person (RP), which RPs need to plan and prepare for ahead of the Regulations coming into force. 

The regulations require RPs in multi-occupied residential buildings to take specific actions, depending on the height of the building:  

  • some provisions apply regardless of height 
  • more are needed once a building reaches 11 metres, and  
  • further requirements are introduced when a building reaches 18 metres (or 7 storeys) or more. 

CORRECT 220516 Fire Day Graphic (1)

The above diagram (produced by the NFCC) shows the basic breakdown of responsibilities depending on height/stories – there are clear priorities based on the height of your building.

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

  • 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

If you need advice on this or any other aspect of fire safety for your building contact our office on 0191 516 6106.

 

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