New regs strengthen fire safety reform

Following the commencement of the Fire Safety Act 2021 in England and Wales, the Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 came into force on 23 January 2023 and were made under Article 24 of the Fire Safety Order 2005. These reforms have been introduced by the government in response to implementing the fire safety recommendations made in the Grenfell Tower Inquiry phase one report.

These Regulations strengthen the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, clarifying what should be included in fire risk assessments of multi-occupancy residential buildings, and focuses on two essential fundamentals: the structure and external walls of the building, including cladding, balconies and windows; and all doors between domestic premises and common parts of the building.

The Door & Hardware Federation’s (DHF) Patricia Sowsbery-Stevens said: “The implications for responsible persons are to focus attention on elements of buildings that some fire risk assessments have previously overlooked. Responsible persons should consider whether a more in-depth assessment of the external walls is required, particularly if their building uses cladding.

“The new rules primarily apply to high-rise buildings where responsible persons must undertake monthly checks on lifts and other key firefighting equipment intended for use by firefighters, reporting any defects to the fire and rescue service if they cannot be fixed in 24 hours; install information boxes with name and contact details for the responsible person, and a copy of the floor plans; provide building plans to their local fire and rescue service, and keep a secure copy on-site; maintain up-to-date information on external wall systems, including the design and materials involved; and erect wayfinding signage with flat and floor numbers to make the exit routes clear in low light or smoky conditions.

“It is important to note that in residential buildings over 11m in height, responsible persons must make quarterly checks on fire doors connecting common parts of the building and make every effort to carry out annual fire door checks of flat entrance doors. However, all multi-occupied residential buildings, regardless of height, must provide fire door information so residents can understand the importance of fire doors, as well as fire safety instructions to residents.”

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