On 29th April, amendments were made to the Fire Safety Order (2005) to now include the Fire Safety Act 2021. These amendments clarify who is accountable for reducing the risk of fire, and ensure that people living in multiple-occupancy residential buildings feel safe in their homes following the Grenfell tragedy 4 years prior. New legislation within the Fire Safety Act 2021 means that property managers and housing associations are now more responsible than ever before to conduct fire risk assessments to ensure the safety of their residents.
What is the Fire Safety Act 2021?
Bringing together multiple pieces of fire safety legislation, the Fire Safety Act 2021 brings additional legislation to the existing Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. The Order states that any responsible persons such as a building owner or employer must take reasonable steps to:
- Reduce the risk of fire on the premises by carrying out a fire risk assessment
- Ensure that occupants of the building (for example employees or members of the public) can safely escape if there is a fire
Why has the Fire Safety Act 2021 Been Implemented?
After fierce debate and five amendment rejections from the House of Commons, this new fire safety bill has been passed by government to clarify the applicability of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 to specific parts of residential buildings, including the flammable external cladding that was responsible for the magnitude of the Grenfell Tower disaster. A clause significant to Grenfell within this additional legislation prohibits remediation costs such as unsafe cladding from being passed onto residents. Other amendments to the order include the assurance that the duty holder for multi-occupancy residential buildings must manage the risk of fire for structural and internal walls including cladding, balconies and windows, and entrance doors to flats which open into communal areas such as corridors.
The bill is expected to affect 1.7 million residential properties across England and Wales, and will provide a foundation for subsequent legislation which will not require an act of parliament, with extra measures including responsibility for lift inspections, and the reviewing of evacuation plans. Following consultation, the final guidance is due to be published in September 2021.
What Needs to Change?
The weight of this amended legislation leans heavily on placing additional duties on responsible persons. As the responsible person (property manager or property owner), the scope of what must be considered during a fire risk assessment will be significantly extended. Choosing a competent individual in-house or professional fire safety experts such as FireCare is vital when completing your fire risk assessment to avoid uncapped fines, potential prison time, and to ensure the safety of your residents.
At FireCare, we provide pragmatic, comprehensive fire safety, security and electrical services to businesses throughout Hampshire, Dorset, Surrey and London. To book your complementary compliance audit, call our friendly team today on 023 8026 9833, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.