The Fire Safety Bill, currently before Parliament, seeks to amend the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and is expected to result in greater clarity over responsibility for fire safety in buildings containing more than one home.
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 consolidated a number of different pieces of fire legislation and has been unchanged in 15 years. It applies to all workplaces and other non-domestic premises, including communal areas of residential buildings with multiple homes. The Order designates those in control of premises as the responsible person for fire safety and they have a duty to undertake assessments and manage risks. The Order is enforced by Fire and Rescue Authorities.
The Order designates those in control of premises as the responsible person for fire safety and this duty normally falls on landlords, building owners or building managers. They have a duty to ensure that a risk assessment is carried out to identify hazards and risks, and to remove and reduce these as far as possible. The responsible person then ensures a set of appropriate measures are in place to achieve fire safety, such as fire safety and fire warden training.
Public and industry bodies have noted an expected increase in enforcement action by Fire and Rescue Authorities as a result of the Bill’s clarifications, as well as an expectation that it will impose greater burdens on the responsible person.
The Bill is part of the Government’s response to a number of reviews and reports since the Grenfell Tower Fire in 2017.
Separate to the Fire Safety Bill, on 20 July 2020 the consultation on changes to the Fire Safety Order was launched. This was after the introduction of the Fire Safety Bill and Committee stage of the Bill in the Commons.
The changes proposed in the consultation have three purposes:
1. Strengthen the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and improve compliance.
2. Implement the Grenfell Tower Inquiry Phase 1 Report recommendations that require a change in law to place new requirements on building owners or managers of multi-occupied residential buildings, mostly high-rise buildings.
3. Strengthen the regulatory framework for how building control bodies consult with Fire and Rescue Authorities and the handover of fire safety information.
The consultation closes on Monday 12 October 2020.
The proposals in the consultation are likely to be implemented in a number of ways: through the Building Safety Bill, amendments to the Fire Safety Order, amendments to Building Regulations and through updated guidance.