Insights: Fire Safety and Protection
What the Fire Safety Act 2021 means for compliance?

The Fire Safety Act 2021, which received Royal Assent on 29th April and is expected to come into force later this year marks a significant milestone in fire compliance.

The legislation amends the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 which has been designed to ensure people can feel safe in their homes. Where a building contains two or more sets of domestic premises, the provisions of the existing Fire Safety Order will extend to include the structure and external walls and common parts of buildings, as well as all doors between the premises. It is estimated that the changes are likely to affect around 1.7 million residential properties in England and Wales.

The Fire Safety Act 2021 was made in contemplation of the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017, in which 72 people lost their lives and many others were injured. Following the tragedy, the legislation took forward recommendations from the inquiry report, including lift inspections, evacuation plans and fire safety instructions for building occupants.

How the new legislation helps to mitigate fire risks

The new legislation is a positive and long-awaited step in the right direction to improving fire safety, following on from previous actions designed to strengthen the regulatory system for building safety, including the new sprinkler requirements and the forthcoming Building Safety Bill.

The act, which apply to all multi-occupied residential buildings regardless of height, require all responsible persons to assess, manage and reduce the fire risks posed by the structure, external walls, and any common parts of the buildings, including all doors between domestic premises. The Fire Safety Act 2021 requires that these must now be included in a fire risk assessment carried out by building owners or managers, with measures to remediate any fire risks to protect the building occupiers.The Fire Safety Act provides clarifications of accountability for reducing fire risk and provides that the responsible person must assess and mitigate the fire safety risk associated with both – the structure and external walls of the building as well as entrance doors to individual flats and communal areas within the building. External walls include doors or windows in those walls, and anything attached to the exterior.

What the new legislation means for building owners and managers

The regulatory changes will require landlords and building managers to ensure risk assessments are accurate and up to date, to prevent any health and safety risks, placing additional duties on responsible persons. The responsible person must take steps to reduce the risk of fire, rather than simply assess and manage the risk of fire, and those who fail to follow the guidance will face a prospect of enforcement action, including an unlimited fine and criminal prosecution. They must also understand their responsibilities, including implementing measures to address any fire risk to protect the occupiers of the building and ensure that appropriate due diligence checks are in place in case something goes wrong.

Despite the legislation not in force yet, building owners and managers are advised to review their fire risk assessments to ensure compliance with the new legislation. At Compliance Group we provide comprehensive fire prevention and protection, ensuring complete fire safety compliance, covering all aspects of both passive and automatic fire prevention. We deliver and administer end-to-end systems providing our clients with the peace of mind and preventing them from possible prosecution. For more information on our services contact our expert team at info@compliancegroup.uk.

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