Key Changes Introduced by the Fire Safety Act 2021

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Very few people in the UK can be unaware of the devastation caused by the Grenfell tower block fire five years ago now.

For those involved in the horrors of that night are replayed over and over again as the fatal accident inquiry into apportioning blame - and ensuring a similar event never occurs again - continues. To this end the government has introduced new legislation in the form of the Fire Safety Act 2021.

The Act considers the recommendations introduced by Sir Martin Moore-Bick in his Phase 1 report into the outcomes of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry. It also refers to the conclusions of Dame Judith Hackitt in her Review of Building Regulation and Fire Safety.

Introduced in April this year, the Act – which is only relevant to buildings in England and Wales – updates the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 to improve fire safety in ‘multi-occupancy’ dwellings i.e. flats like Grenfell Tower. It does this by extending regulation to the external walls of the building and fire doors to individual flats.

Specific Rulings Of The Act

  • The regulations refer to all multi-occupancy residencies regardless of height.
  • Those responsible for fire safety in a building must do so by carrying out regular assessments and managing risk. He or she must also reduce risk by, for instance, looking at external walls and individual doors opening onto common areas in the building (i.e. fire doors). This ‘responsibility’ has prompted the magazine Letting Agent Today to comment @LA_Today: “Agents and landlords are being warned that the Fire Safety Act 2021 will make a huge impact on their responsibilities - and marks the start of a new era for building safety.”
  • Fire and Rescue authorities can enforce these regulations in the light of non-compliance by the Responsible Person for fire safety in a building.

The Building Safety Act

The Fire Safety Act 2021 will align with the new Building Safety Bill. The latter is expected to receive Royal Assent and not come into force until 2023 at the earliest.

The Building Safety Act is expected to introduce amongst other things the concept of a Building Safety Regulator, this, in turn, is expected to highlight the need for more qualified surveyors to be available to conduct fire safety surveys. They are expected to be backed up financially by a government indemnity insurance scheme – the introduction of which was announced earlier this year, in February.

The role of the building safety manager (BSM) is a critical new position for the sector and the consultation process for PAS 8673 (a new specification which provides a framework for the competence of building safety managers) closed in September this year and is programmed for release early in 2022. PAS 8673 is part of the Built Environment Competence Programme which itself supports the Building Safety Bill to raise competence requirements for three newly regulated roles, namely those of principal designer, principal contractor and building safety manager.

Get In Touch

If you’d like help in ensuring you are up-to-date with the new changes in fire safety regulations then contact us today for advice and to book an assessment and/or training.

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