Following the Grenfell Tower Tragedy on 14th June 2017, a number of legislative fire safety changes have been introduced to improve the safety of occupants.
From 1 October 2023, Section 156 of the Building Safety Act 2022 comes in to force and makes changes to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and represent the next phase of the governments fire safety reform programme.
The Fire Safety Order is the primary fire safety legislation in England and Wales, and it applies to all non-domestic premises as well as the communal parts of residential buildings.
To find out where the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order applies, please use this link: Fire safety: guidance for those with legal duties - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
The changes introduced by section 156 of the Building Safety Act are:
All Buildings where the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005
The previous requirement to have a written fire risk assessment only applied in certain circumstances, for example, if the business employed five or more employees. From 1st October 2023 this will no longer be the case, the legislative changes removes the previous limitations on the circumstances within which you are required to record both the risk assessment and the fire safety arrangements at your premises. If you are a responsible person, then you will need to record both your fire risk assessment and fire safety arrangement in full, regardless of the size or purpose of the business or premises.
If you employ a fire risk assessor to assist you in completing a fire risk assessment, you must record their name, and where applicable their organisation name. This will ensure there is a clear record for enforcing authorities as to who completed the assessment and will enable you to share this information with both residents (where applicable) and any incoming Responsible Person after you. You are responsible for ensuring that your fire risk assessment is suitable and sufficient and if you employ someone to do this for you we would recommend that you ensure they are competent to do so.
Find out if you are a responsible person here: Check your fire safety responsibilities under the Fire Safety Order - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
For help with fire risk assessment please use this link: Fire safety risk assessment: 5-step checklist - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Increased Cooperation and Coordination Between Responsible Persons
If you are the responsible person for a building where there are multiple responsible persons, for example, a building which is occupied by multiple businesses, or buildings where the occupier leases/rents the premises from a landlord, there are increased requirements for cooperation and coordination between responsible persons.
From 1st October 2023 you must:
- Take reasonable steps to ascertain whether any other responsible person shares, or has duties for the premises.
- Provide other responsible persons concerned with the premises with details of your name and address (in the UK).
- Inform other responsible persons concerned with the premises which parts of the premises you consider yourself to be responsible for, and keep a record of that information.
Share Information with ‘In-coming’ Responsible Persons
If your business ceases trading, moves out and is replaced by another, or your building is sold to a new owner it can lead to disruption in the fire safety management of the premises. As the ‘out-going’ responsible person you will be required to share your fire risk assessment with the ‘in-coming’ responsible person.
The information passed to the ‘in-coming’ responsible person must include the details of other responsible persons in relation to the premises including their UK address, or someone acting on their behalf.
Residential Premises with two or More Domestic Premises
In residential buildings with two or more domestic premises (e.g. blocks of flats), the responsible owner must provide residents with information on the risks from fire within their building and the fire safety measures provided to keep them safe. This requirement expands upon legislation introduced earlier this year that required responsible persons to provide residents with information on emergency procedures and the importance of fire doors.
The information that must be provided is:
- The risks to residents of the domestic premises identified by the risk assessment;
- The preventive and protective measures
- The name of the responsible person and an address in the United Kingdom at which the responsible person, or someone acting on their behalf, will accept notices and other documents
- The identity of any person appointed by the responsible person to assist them with making or reviewing the fire risk assessment
- The identity of any persons nominated by the responsible person to implement measures for fire-fighting in the premises
- Any risks of which the responsible person has been informed other responsible persons who share or have duties in respect of the premises
- Any other matters specified in regulations made by the relevant authority.
Residential Premises over 18m (or at least 7 storeys)
Cooperation and Coordination between Responsible Persons and Accountable Persons
A responsible person must take reasonable steps to find out if there are one or more accountable persons in relation to the premises. As a responsible person you must cooperate with each accountable person for the purpose of the accountable person carrying out their duties under the Building Safety Act.
For more information on the accountable person, please use this link: Safety in high-rise residential buildings: Accountable persons - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
For more support and guidance please visit out Business Fire Safety webpage: Business Fire Safety | Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service (merseyfire.gov.uk)
If you are responsible for a high rise residential building, please visit our Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 webpage to find out about your responsibilities: Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 - Fault and Information Reporting | Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service (merseyfire.gov.uk)