The Fire Safety Bill was introduced in March 2020 following the Grenfell Tower tragedy in June 2017. The Bill was made law on 29 April 2021, becoming the Fire Safety Act 2021 and is a relatively short piece of legislation albeit with significance for the organisations involved in assessing and insuring fire safety risks. The Act applies to England and Wales with separate fire safety legislation is in place in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The Act’s Provisions
The Fire Safety Act 2021 amends the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (the “FSO”) with the intention of improving fire safety. The Act clarifies that, in addition to general responsibilities under The Fire Safety Order, responsible persons (RPs) for buildings containing two or more domestic premises must manage and reduce the risk of fire for the structure and external walls of the building, including cladding, balconies and windows, and entrance doors to individual flats that open onto common parts.
The specific provisions of the Act include:
The Act applies to all multi-occupied residential buildings and is not dependent on the height of the building. The Act further provides English and Welsh Ministers with a regulation-making power to amend the type of buildings the Order applies to in the future.
The FSO designates those in control of premises as the Responsible Person for fire safety; giving them a duty to undertake assessments and manage risks. The Act now requires all Responsible Persons to reduce, as well as to assess and manage, the fire risks posed by the structure and external walls of the building(s) and by individual doors opening onto common parts of the building.
The FSO was enforced by fire and rescue authorities, but the Act allows these authorities to enforce against non-compliance in relation to the external walls and the individual doors opening onto the common parts of the premises.
The Act also introduces the concept of ‘risk-based guidance’ in order to support a proportionate approach towards assessing risk.
The Act implements the recommendations made by Sir Martin Moore-Bick in his Phase 1 report in the Grenfell Tower Inquiry and the conclusions of Dame Judith Hackitt’s Review of Building Regulation and Fire Safety.
County Durham & Darlington Fire and Rescue Service will work with our business community to help them understand what the changes mean to them and to help them to fulfil their obligation to comply. Over the coming months, we will share our approach to the new legislation.
More Information available to you:
The Fire Safety (England) Regulations can be found on the UK Government website.
The Home Office has produced a series of fact sheets which provide more detailed information on what the Regulations mean in England:
- Overview Fact Sheet
- Secure Information Box Fact Sheet
- Design and Materials of External Walls Fact Sheet
- Floor Plans and Building Plan Fact Sheet
- Lifts and Essential Fire-fighting Equipment Fact Sheet
- Wayfinding Signage Face Sheet
- Information to Residents Fact Sheet
- Fire Doors Fact Sheet
- Fire Risk Assessment Prioritisation Tool