Today (23 January 2023) the Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 (the Regulations) come into force. The Regulations, enacting many of the recommendations from the Grenfell Tower Public Inquiry, introduce a number of additional obligations for the responsible persons of multi-occupied residential buildings.
For all multi-occupied residential buildings with two or more sets of domestic premises, the additional obligations placed on responsible persons will include the provision of relevant fire safety instructions to residents.
Additional obligations are then placed on the responsible persons for multi-occupied residential buildings over 11 metres in height, which include enhanced requirements to complete checks of communal fire doorsets and flat front doorsets.
Further additional obligations are placed on responsible persons for multi-occupied residential buildings at least 18 metres in height or at least seven storeys, which include the requirement to provide the local fire and rescue service with up-to-date electronic building floor plans and place a hard copy of these plans, alongside a single page building plan which identifies key firefighting equipment, in a secure information box on site.
The Regulations are part of the wider reforms we have seen in the areas of fire and building safety and encapsulate two key themes we are repeatedly seeing in these areas:
- There is an expectation those with responsibility for buildings will communicate clearly, regularly and transparently with residents. It is not enough to just give the information - it must be in a form residents can reasonably be expected to understand. For those operating supported housing, it will be important to consider any particular needs of residents (e.g. where English is not a resident’s first language or the resident is living with a learning disability).
- A tick-box approach no longer ticks the boxes - traditionally we have seen fire safety compliance being measured/reported through the percentage completion of fire risk assessments and the number of outstanding actions arising from these assessments. This no longer appears suitable - new legislation (including the Regulations) requires those who manage buildings to consider the safety of those buildings as a whole rather than in silos. A holistic approach is now required. The boards of housing providers will need to consider how they seek assurance in the context of this changing emphasis.
If you require further advice in relation to your obligations under the Regulations, please do not hesitate to contact our regulatory team.