Last week, the Government’s proposals for fire safety reform came into force, following on from the commencement of the Fire Safety Act 2021 and the launch of the Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022.
In short, the regulations apply to new and existing multi-occupancy buildings with two or more sets of domestic premises. They set out requirements for the Responsible Person to provide residents with safety instructions and information on vital safety features, including fire doors. Responsible Persons must also provide information to Fire and Rescue Services to help them plan and deliver an effective operational response.
In large part, this and other new legislation is a response to the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017, which killed 72 people. The public inquiry into these tragic events resulted in several recommendations for improving fire safety in the UK.
The new regulations fit into the existing Fire Safety Order, chiefly applicable to high-rise buildings. They implement some, but not all the recommendations put forth by the independent Hackitt Review. Chris Philp, the Minister for Crime, Policing and Fire said:
“I am very pleased that measures to improve fire safety in blocks of flats are now law following recommendations made by the Grenfell Tower Inquiry. Keeping the public safe is our utmost priority and we are committed to ensuring that the Grenfell tragedy must never happen again.”
Reassurance for residents is also welcomed by Steve Hamm, the Chief Operating Officer at the Institution of Fire Engineers, who gave a statement:
“The IFE recognises the impact the new Fire Safety Act will have on the profession. However, through the roles and responsibilities of Responsible Persons being clearly identified, steps toward rebuilding trust in the fire safety of residential buildings are imminent.
“This level of accountability is vitally important and communities need to be confident that everything possible is being done to keep the buildings they live in as safe as possible, providing complete transparency when issues arise.
“As the international professional body for fire, we are committed to supporting clear competency frameworks for fire engineers whilst maintaining the high levels of ethics and standards that drive advances in fire safety.”
The Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) called the new regulations a “significant step forward” toward protecting people occupying high-rise buildings. Ruth Wilkinson, IOSH Head of Policy urged Responsible Persons to take heed of the new regulations:
“We saw at Grenfell failures in the system, poor cultures and the terrible consequences of getting fire safety wrong and we need collective action to ensure such a tragedy never happens again.
“These regulations are another significant step forward in fire safety but there is still more to do, and we all must play our part. We urge people to take note – and we’d like to see compliance with fire safety and building regulations in all buildings including workplaces.”
If you’re looking for more information on an employer’s health and safety obligations, visit BrAInbox today where you can find answers to questions like Do I have to monitor employee welfare for employees who work outdoors and not in the main office building?
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