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2nd December 2021

What is The Fire Safety Bill..?

What is the Fire Safety Bill?

The Fire Safety Bill (or The Fire Safety Act 2021 as it’s now known) is a new piece of legislation that has been introduced following the Grenfell tragedy in 2017 and the subsequent public enquiry. The aim of the new Act is to prevent such future tragedies from occurring within multi-occupied residential buildings.

Who will it apply to?

The Act will apply to all multi-occupancy residential properties regardless of height throughout England, Wales and Northern Ireland– with similar legislation expected to be forthcoming for both Scotland and Eire. Although a date has not yet been confirmed for when the Act will come into force, it is likely this will be in 2022, with new legislation typically being brought in over the months of April and October.

What changes will this bring?

The Fire Safety Act 2021 amends the existing Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 With the main focus being to clarify that it will apply to: –

  • The structure and external walls and any common parts including doors and windows in those walls as well as anything attached to the exterior of the walls, including cladding systems and balconies;
  • All doors between the domestic premises and common parts.

Clarification on the above issues was considered necessary as it was previously not clear whether the existing legislation covered the structure and external walls of buildings – meaning responsibility for potentially dangerous external wall systems and structural issues in multi-occupancy residential buildings was not clear.

Once the legislation is brought into force, the above new requirements must be assessed as part of the fire risk assessment process. In reality, this has been the case for some time already, but the Act now places a specific legal duty on the ’Responsible Person’ to ensure these requirements are complied with.

Who is the Responsible Person?

The Responsible Person is the person (or entity) who has control of the premises. This may include building owners, leaseholders or managers. The clarification provided under the Act (as set out above), means the Fire and Rescue Authorities can now better identify the Responsible Person for a given building – and this will provide a clearer route for enforcement action against and/or prosecution of any Responsible Person who fails to comply.

In Summary

  • The external walls of a building, the fire doors to individual flats and those located in common areas are to be assessed as part of the requirement for a fire risk assessment on any given building.
  • The ‘Responsible Person’ has a legal responsibility to commission a fire risk assessment with the above points being considered (In England and Wales presently).
  • It applies to all multi-occupied residential buildings and is not dependent on the height of the building.
  • It allows the Fire and Rescue Service to enforce against non–compliance in relation to the external walls and the individual doors opening onto the common parts of the premises.

It is understood the Government plan to overhaul and update the various existing Fire Safety Guidance documents in line with the forthcoming changes to the Law, but in the meantime, if you have any queries or concerns on fire safety matters don’t hesitate to call our advice line on 0300 303 5228.

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