On October 1 2023, Section 156 of the Building Safety Act 2022 came into force, with changes made to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 which affect anyone who acts as a Responsible Person.
The Building Safety Act 2022 updates the obligations and responsibilities of all persons connected with the design, construction, maintenance and management of a building or property.
Following on from the Grenfell Tower Inquiry, several updates have been made to the Fire Safety Order to ensure measures are fit for purpose and followed adequately as part of routine maintenance, ongoing servicing and any emergency situations.
The Responsible Person(s) must understand their duties and obligations to be sure the properties under their care are legally compliant.
THE REGULATORY REFORM (FIRE SAFETY) ORDER 2005
In England and Wales, the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order (‘Fire Safety Order’) 2005 is the fire safety legislation as set out by the Government to ensure compliance. The Order applies to business premises’, buildings and communal areas within houses of multiple occupancy (e.g. apartment blocks).
The Responsible Person(s) is deemed as the person, or persons, with responsibility for the overall fire safety of a premises. This could be:
- An employer
- A premises landlord
- The building owner
- Building or facilities manager (or other person with control of the premises)
Fire Risk Assessment
The Responsible Person(s) must be competent and knowledgeable about the premises and surrounding areas, and perform a Fire Risk Assessment (FRA) to ascertain any potential fire or safety risks. The Assessment is a legal requirement, and must detail the premises and its users with a view to eliminating fire risk.
The Fire Safety Order 2005 applies to the multiple properties and sectors, including but not limited to:
- Retail spaces
- Office buildings
- Restaurants, public houses, cafes
- Factories and manufacturers
- Schools and educational facilities
- Sports grounds
- Hotels, hostels and other accommodation provisions
THE BUILDING SAFETY ACT 2022 LEGISLATION
The Act coming into affect has amended the Fire Safety Order in several operational ways. The Responsible Person(s) must now:
- Be competent and have sufficient knowledge to complete a fire risk assessment of the premises for which they are responsible. If there is more than one Responsible Person, it must be clearly noted which duties are shared or held by the individual.
- Record the completed fire risk assessment in full detail, recording all findings no matter the size or purpose of the premises, and note any measures taken. In previous versions, the requirement was to only record any significant findings with; 5 or more employed staff members, a licence in place (i.e. a public house) or if the premises had alterations notices served on it. Risk assessments must now be completed, regardless of the number of employees or size of the business.
- Detail the fire safety arrangements of the premises, e.g. the management of fire safety equipment via a trusted provider, the policies in place for emergencies, the frequency of alarm tests etc.
- The individual, or fire safety professional, that conducts the fire risk assessment must be identified and included in the fire safety paperwork.
Provision of Fire Safety Information
Concerning multi-occupied properties with residents, relevant fire safety information must be shared. This list must at least include:
- How to raise the alarm in an emergency
- The fire evacuation strategy to be followed
- Risks identified in the assessment
- The fire protection in place
- The preventative measures to protect the premises from fire
IMPORTANT TAKEAWAYS TO NOTE
Recording the Fire Risk Assessment
In the Building Safety Act 2022, the Responsible Person(s) must now record all findings and considerations made in the FRA. Noting “You should make available as much information as possible about fire safety in your premises”, the Act and all findings are required regardless of employee numbers (as in the previous ruling).
More Stringent Fines in Place
The Act has introduced higher fines for offences if points are not adhered to correctly.
The duty to share fire safety guidelines and rulings lies with the Responsible Person(s). It is down to this Person(s) to ensure information is given in good timing, and is easy to understand; this could include providing information in alternative languages.
Full Updated Legislation and Guidance
The Government has released guidance outlining the new fire safety requirements, as well as background detail on the Building Safety Act.
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