New rules add to responsibilities of building owners
Fire safety regulations introduced in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower tragedy came into force today (Monday).
The Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 introduce new responsibilities for “responsible persons” in tall residential buildings across England.
The regulations implement most of the recommendations made to government in the first phase Grenfell Tower Inquiry report – published in October 2019 – which require a change in law.
They make it a requirement in law for responsible persons – typically the building owner – to provide information to the fire services to help them plan, and to provide additional safety measures.
Steve Callow, housing manager at MPA Masonry, said the regulations were a “welcome step forward” that would “push housebuilders and developers to demonstrate best practice”.
“It’s clear we need to adopt a more safety-first approach to the way we build and, hopefully, these tougher regulations do just that,” he said.
“I hope it will finally put an end to value engineering and create a far more robust framework for fire inspection.”
According to the results of a survey carried out by OnePoll, leaseholders have a relatively weak understanding of building owners’ legal obligations under UK rules.
In a survey of 2,000, conducted on behalf of software company Zutec at the beginning of the year, just 21% said they had a detailed understanding of the law, with 34% saying they had little to no understanding and 45% reporting some level of understanding.
In Brief: The Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022
In high-rise residential buildings, responsible persons will be required to:
- Provide local fire services with up-to-date electronic building floor plans and to put a hard copy in a secure information box on site
- Provide local fire services information about the design and materials of the building’s external wall system and to inform them of changes to these materials.
- Provide information about the level of risk the external wall structure gives rise to and mitigating steps taken
- Undertake monthly checks on the operation of lifts and the functionality of other pieces of firefighting equipment, informing the fire service of faults as soon as possible if it cannot be fixed within 24 hours – the outcome of checks should be made available to residents.
- Install and maintain a secure information box containing the name and contact details of the responsible person
- Install wayfinding signage visible in low light or smoky conditions identifiying flat and floor numbers in the stairwells of relevant buildings
In residential buildings with storeys over 11 metres in height, responsible persons will be required to:
- Undertake annual checks of flat entrance doors and quarterly checks of all fire doors in the common parts.
In all multi-occupied residential buildings with two or more sets of domestic premises, responsible persons will be required to:
- Provide relevant fire safety instructions to their residents, including instructions on how to report a fire what to do once a fire has occurred, based on the evacuation strategy for the building.
- Provide residents with information relating to the importance of fire doors in fire safety.