Home Office signals commencement of Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022
23 January 2023
THE FIRE Safety (England) Regulations 2022 come into force today (Monday 23 January 2023) and implement the majority of the recommendations made by the Grenfell Tower Inquiry in its Phase 1 report, which required a change in the law. The Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 seek to improve the fire safety of blocks of flats in ways which are practical, cost-effective for individual leaseholders and, importantly, proportionate to the risk of fire.
The Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 come into force following the publication of guidance issued on 6 December last year.
For high-rise residential buildings (ie multi-occupied residential buildings of at least 18 metres in height or seven or more storeys), ‘Responsible Persons’ must:
*share electronically with their local Fire and Rescue Service information about the building’s external wall system and, further, provide the Fire and Rescue Service with electronic copies of floor plans and building plans for the building
*keep hard copies of the building’s floor plans – in addition to a single page orientation plan of the building and the name (and UK contact details) of the ‘Responsible Person’ – in a secure information box which is accessible by firefighters
*install wayfinding signage in all high-rise buildings, which must be visible in low light conditions
*establish a minimum of monthly checks on lifts for the use of firefighters in high-rise residential buildings and on essential pieces of firefighting equipment
*inform the local Fire and Rescue Service if a lift used by firefighters (or any of the pieces of firefighting equipment on the premises) is ‘out of order’ for a period longer than 24 hours
For multi-occupied residential buildings over 11 metres in height, ‘Responsible Persons’ must:
*undertake quarterly checks on all communal fire doors and annual checks on flat entrance doors
In all multi-occupied residential buildings, ‘Responsible Persons’ must:
*provide residents with relevant fire safety instructions and information about the importance of fire doors
The Fire Safety Act 2021 clarifies the scope of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 to make clear it applies to the structure, external walls (including cladding and balconies) and individual flat entrance doors between domestic premises and the common parts.
The Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022, made under article 24 of the Fire Safety Order, impose new duties on ‘Responsible Persons’ with regard to the areas brought within the scope of the Fire Safety Order by the Fire Safety Act 2021. Commencement of Section One of the latter was therefore a necessary precursor to the laying of the Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022.
Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022
Home Office communication
In a communication sent to the Fire Sector Federation, Sarah Gawley (interim director for the Fire, Events and Central Management Public Safety Group that sits within the Home Office) noted: “The changes made through the Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 form an integral part of the reforms we are delivering to improve fire safety following the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower and implement the majority of the recommendations made by the Grenfell Tower Inquiry in its Phase 1 report to Government that required a change in the law.”
Gawley continued: “The Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 were made under Article 24 of the Fire Safety Order and impose new duties on ‘Responsible Persons’ of high-rise and other multi-occupied residential buildings. This includes a requirement to share specified information electronically with the Fire and Rescue Service to assist the latter in planning an effective operational response to a fire, check specified fire safety equipment on an ongoing basis and provide residents with relevant fire safety instructions.”
Further, Gawley has stated: “In developing these reforms, we consulted widely, firstly through the Fire Safety Consultation 2020 and then as we developed the detail of the Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 to make sure that the changes are practical and proportionate. The checks required for lifts, firefighting equipment and fire doors are intended to be simple enough in nature that ‘Responsible Persons’ should not require the services of specialists, which may otherwise incur potentially disproportionate costs.”
The guidance on fire doors is all about ensuring that ‘Responsible Persons’ are able to conduct the necessary checks themselves without the need to employ specialist support and also do so in a consistent way. The guidance clarifies the definition of a fire door and sets out how to undertake an inspection of them.
The National Fire Chiefs Council has produced infographics, animations and templates that help to explain the Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022. These can be found on the organisation’s website at www.nationalfirechiefs.org.uk
In conclusion, Gawley has stated: “The Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 place a number of new requirements on ‘Responsible Persons’ and we are keen to understand how they work on the ground in both the short and longer term. We have made a legislative commitment to review the Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 within five years of commencement, but in the meantime, we will work with the sector to monitor the impact on an ongoing basis.”