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Fire Safety Act 2021

Fire safety legislation has been scrutinised, debated and publicised, in the fallout from the Grenfell Tower tragedy in 2017. One of the outcomes of this scrutiny is the issuing of the Fire Safety Act 2021. This was made law on 29 April 2021 and is an amendment of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (RRO). The Act is another step towards a strengthened fire safety regime for multi-occupancy residential buildings. The objective of the Act is to ensure that people are safe in their homes and a tragedy like the Grenfell Tower fire will never happen again.’

The commencement of this Act is imminent now that the government guidance (PAS9980) (Methodology for the fire risk appraisal of external wall construction and cladding of existing multistorey and multi occupied premises) has been published.

The FSO applies to all premises in England and Wales that contains 2 or more sets of domestic premises. These include multi-occupied residential buildings such as blocks of flats although individual flats are excluded.

The new legislation clarifies that where a building contains 2 or more sets of domestic premises, the FSO applies to:

  • the building’s structure and external walls (including windows, balconies, cladding, insulation and fixings) and any common parts
  • all doors between domestic premises and common parts such as flat entrance doors (or any other relevant door)

The Act grants the Secretary of State or Welsh Minister to change the types of premises to which the RRO applies..

This is an important piece of legislation with potentially significant ramifications for those persons / organisations considered “Responsible Persons” under the RRO.

What do we need to do?

Now, the responsible person – such as the landlord / management agency / leaseholder – must ensure

  1. A fire risk assessment is completed for the common parts of the premises which includes the structure and the external walls, including the doors and windows within those walls, and attachments such as balconies, cladding and insulation.
  2. Fire doors checks are necessary. Fire Door Survey by a competent person with the correct insurance
  3. Where the fire risk assessment identifies that the external walls have facades / cladding / including green walls then a Fire Risk Appraisal of the External Wall is to be conducted by competent person (specialist) (not within the competence of a typical fire risk assessor) with the correct insurance using the PAS 9980 methodology.

Further changes to Regulations require High risk properties (High risk properties are not just those 18m or over but must consider the use and the occupancy of the premises) to create

  • Emergency Evacuation Plans are to be drawn up and reviewed regularly, These are to be provided in written and electronic form to the applicable fire enforcing authority and held on site in Premises Information Boxes. It is intended to amend ADB to recommend that Premises Information Boxes are provided on all new buildings over 11m
  • The Grenfell Tower enquiry made recommendation for the preparation of Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans for relevant persons. These would also be required to be held in the Premises Information Box. This is still under government consideration due to the complexity of the issue

You can contact ProAktive for help in this area. Speak with our team on 01302 341 344.

By Ian French CMIOSHRisk Consultant


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