17th November 2022
New Fire Safety Requirements Come into Force from 2023
From 23rd January 2023, The Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 introduce new key legal duties for building owners/managers (responsible persons). This article provides the key salient points of what you need to be aware of in order to stay compliant and be prepared for the new requirements.
Why is there a Change?
Following the Independent Grenfell Tower Inquiry, the first Phase report produced in October 2019 made several recommendations, which were duly accepted by the Government. Some of these recommendations required a change in the law in order to implement, which these new regulations will now bring into force.
New Requirements for High Rise Buildings
The new regulations will make it a legal requirement for responsible persons of existing high-rise buildings (defined as 18 metres in height, or of at least 7 storeys) to provide information to Fire and Rescue Services to assist them to plan and, if needed, provide an effective operational response. This information must be safely stored at the premises in will become known as a Premises Information Box (PIB).
The regulations will require responsible persons to install a suitably secure PIB in or on their high-rise building. The box must be secure from vandalism/unauthorised access, and will need to contain the following key information:
- The UK contact details of the buildings responsible person;
- The UK contact details of any other person who has the facilities to and is permitted to access the building as the responsible person considers appropriate;
- Hard copies of the building’s floor plans – which also identify specified key fire-fighting equipment;
- A single page block plan – which identifies specified key fire-fighting equipment.
Access will need to be given to the fire and rescue service (i.e. by use of generic key or access code) and the boxes must be inspected routinely with their contents kept up to date in line any significant changes.
Additionally, there will be a new requirement for responsible persons to install suitable wayfinding signage. The signage will need to include clear markings identifying both floors and individual flat numbers. The signage will need to be visible both in normal conditions and in low lighting or smoky conditions.
There will be a new requirement for responsible persons undertake additional monthly checks of any lifts within the building that are designed, installed and maintained to be used by fire-fighters. These checks also need to also include the mechanism which allows fire- fighters to take control of lifts. Monthly checks will also be required on all evacuation lifts.
Fire Door Inspections
New requirements concerning fire door inspections are to be introduced which will affect all existing multi-occupied residential buildings with storeys over 11 metres in height.
This will require responsible persons to:
- undertake quarterly checks of all fire doors (including self-closing devices) throughout the common parts;
- undertake (on a ‘best endeavour’ basis) – annual checks of all flat entrance doors (including self-closing devices) that lead onto a building’s common parts.
The regulations will also require responsible persons to provide to residents of all multi-occupied residential buildings with two or more sets of domestic premises (that have common parts) information on the importance of fire doors to a building’s fire safety.
Information To Residents
This new requirement will apply to all multi-occupied residential buildings with two or more sets of domestic premises (and which have common parts).
The responsible persons will need to provide residents with fire safety instructions and make sure that these are shared in a form that residents can reasonably be expected to understand.
The key instructions residents will need are:
- how to report a fire
- a reminder of what the evacuation strategy is for that building, and;
- any other instruction that tells residents what they must do once a fire has
occurred, based on the building’s evacuation strategy.
In reality this can be addressed by way of Fire Action Notices which can then be prominently displayed within the building’s communal areas (such as the building’s lobby or any conspicuous part of the building). There is also a need to share this information directly with residents when they first move into the building.
The information will need to be re-provided in both the communal area and to residents when a document is updated, and should also be re-provided to all residents on an annual basis.
For more detail about the forthcoming changes, there are now several facts sheets available on the governments website, and specific guidance on each of the new requirements is expected to be published towards the end of this year. However for any queries in the meantime – don’t hesitate to call our adviceline on 0300 303 5228.