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What new fire safety legislation has been introduced?

Section 156 of the Building Safety Act 2022 (BSA) makes several amendments to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (FSO) to improve fire safety legislation. These improvements form Phase 3 of the Home Office’s fire safety reform programme, building on Phase 1 (the Fire Safety Act 2021) and Phase 2 (the Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022).

Phase 1 and Phase 2 focused specifically on enforcing fire safety standards in residential buildings. Phase 3, meanwhile, strengthens fire safety in all FSO regulated premises, including factories and warehouses.

Why have there been so many recent changes?

The Grenfell tragedy, in which 72 people died because of a fire in a London tower-block in 2017, highlighted the unsuitability of existing fire safety legislation and general building safety legislation. The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 was nearly 20 years old, so it had a much-needed update to meet fire safety regulations.

The new regulations appear to focus on tall buildings (tower-blocks, flats). If I’m the responsible person for a single-storey building; do the new regulations affect me?

Admittedly, a big focus has been on buildings over 11m, however, many of the regulations introduced impact everyone.

The new regulations have placed more emphasis on the responsible person, increased requirements in relation to the recording and sharing of fire safety information, and also made it easier for enforcement authorities to take action against non-compliance.

What are the new requirements in relation to fire risk assessments?

When carrying out risk assessments, you must now record the fire risk assessments in full and make as much information as possible about fire safety available. This new requirement replaces the previous requirement to record only the significant findings of the risk assessment. It also removes the previous limitations on the circumstances within which you are required to record both the risk assessment and the fire safety arrangements at your premises, such as only being required to record this information if there were five or more employees or where subject to licensing or an alterations notice.

Can I employ a fire risk assessor to complete a fire risk assessment on my behalf?

In short, yes.

But, you must record their name and, where applicable, their organisation name. You are responsible for ensuring the fire risk assessment is suitable and sufficient, therefore it’s imperative that you’re confident that any external fire risk assessors used are competent. The fire and rescue authority will also need access to this information.

How can you be sure of competence?

Competence is usually defined by having sufficient training, skills and qualifications. Check that anyone you’re using has appropriate accredited qualifications and are registered with a professional body. The Institute of Fire Safety Managers (IFSM) is a highly regarded professional body, with a tiered register of fire risk assessors to help you select a suitably competent fire professional.

There is legislation coming that will clarify competence and provide associated guidance for the responsible person.

How can Make UK help?

A number of Make UK Consultants are members of the Institute of Fire Safety Managers (IFSM) at associate and member level, recognising professional development within the Institute. We also have consultants, like myself, who are on the Tiered Fire Risk Assessor Register (TFRAR).

As a Health, Safety and Sustainability member, you can use your consultancy day for support with fire safety. If you’re not a member, we’d be happy to provide consultancy support for you on an ad hoc basis, as required.

Additionally, if you are responsible for enforcing fire safety or if you are simply looking to improve competency within your organisation and ensure the responsible person receives adequate fire safety training, we have several relevant training courses.

For more information on which course we’d recommend for you, please don’t hesitate to contact us – call 0808 168 5874 or email [email protected]

Blog / Make UK / Health Safety and Sustainability