Fire Safety Bill (England and Wales)

I posted before about the Fire Safety Bill. The current version is here.

The Queen’s Speech included a commitment to bring forward a Fire Safety Bill, its purpose being to clarify that the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (the Fire Safety Order) applies to external walls (including cladding, balconies and windows) and individual flat entrance doors in multi-occupied residential buildings.

This is relevant to building owners, leaseholders or managers of multi-occupied residential buildings who are likely to be the responsible persons and who need to ensure that they have assessed the fire safety risks of the premises for which they are responsible, and have taken the necessary fire precautions as a result of that assessment.

The Fire Safety Bill also affirms Fire and Rescue Authorities have the relevant enforcement powers to hold owners or managers to account.

It complements existing powers local authorities have to take enforcement action against building owners and managers under the housing health and safety rating system (HHSRS) provided for in the Housing Act 2004 and the Building (Amendment) Regulations 2018 (SI 2018/1230) which came into force on 21 December 2018 and banned the use of combustible materials within the external walls, and certain attachments to the external walls, of any new building at least 18 metres in height where:

* the building contains at least one dwelling;

* the building contains certain residential accommodation for the treatment, care or maintenance of persons; and

* the building contains certain rooms used for residential purposes, including student accommodation and school dormitories.

Including such a building created by a material change of use.

The Fire Safety Bill supports the Government’s intended action to introduce secondary legislation to implement the specific recommendations made in the Grenfell Tower Inquiry Phase One Report. The recommendations called for new legal duties on “building owners or managers of high-rise buildings” in relation to inspection and information sharing with the local Fire and Rescue Service. This includes the requirement for building owners or managers to share information with their local Fire and Rescue Service about the design of its external walls and details of the materials from which they are constructed and to undertake regular inspections of individual flat entrance doors.

The Fire Safety Bill is now ready for Royal Assent today 29 April.

When published, it will be consolidated into the existing 2005 Fire Safety Order and added to Cardinal Environment EHS Legislation Registers & Checklists (England, Wales, and England & Wales).

The secondary legislation is likely to be of interest.

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