Building owners face tougher obligations under Fire Safety Bill
Industry has welcomed the government’s draft fire safety legislation published this week – but questioned whether there are enough specialist inspectors to implement it.
The new law will put the onus on the owners of all multi-occupancy buildings of any height to manage and reduce the risk of fire in the structure and external walls. It also applies to flat doors opening on to communal areas.
Owners will face enforcement by the emergency services if they fail to comply with the rules.
Andrew Mellor, a partner at PRP which advises MHCLG on policy and building regulations, said the bill would help to ensure buildings and their occupants are safer.
But he added: “For those who own or manage residential buildings, the requirements will impact further on costs and resource allocation for investigating buildings and ensuring compliance.
“Added to that, with so many existing residential buildings in England and Wales, how will the industry be able to undertake the volume of assessments required given the current shortage of fire safety experts?”
Called the Fire Safety Bill, it could be introduced as early as the summer.
Gary Strong, global building standards director at the RICS, said the bill would give further clarity to leaseholders and building owners.
He added: “We hope the details of this important legislation aren’t lost amongst the growing covid-19 health crisis.”
He said RICS had been calling for some time for clarity on the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, and that the new bill was a welcome amendment.
“Building owners and their agents will now have the information needed – specifically in relation to external walls, balconies and front doors which open on to internal common areas – to better safeguard the people living in their buildings,” he said.