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NFCC pleased to see new Fire Safety Bill announced

24 March 2020

The National Fire Chiefs Council is pleased to see the announcement of the new Fire Safety Bill, which includes measures NFCC has been calling for since 2017.

Announced on 19th March, the new bill – which amends the Fire Safety Order (FSO) 2005 – aims to improve fire safety in buildings across England and Wales. This now means fire and rescue services are empowered to take enforcement action – and hold building owners to account if they are not compliant.

The announcement includes changes to the FSO, including clarification that the responsible person or duty-holder for multi-occupied, residential buildings must manage and reduce the risk of fire for:

  • The structure and external walls of the building, including cladding, balconies and windows
  • Entrance doors to individual flats that open into common parts.

Fire and rescue services have never had these powers for external walls before and there was some ambiguity over individual flat front doors; NFCC hopes these additional powers speed up the remediation of the removal of cladding by taking action against those who are not compliant. 

However, NFCC has said there must be additional supportive measures in place when it comes to the identification of different types of cladding, and to meet the costs to cover any additional work required of fire and rescue services.

The Bill also includes secondary legislation, which will give the Government powers to amend the list of qualifying premises that fall within the scope of the FSO.

NFCC Chair, Roy Wilsher commented: “We look forward to seeing additional supportive measures to assist fire and rescue services, identify different types of cladding and take appropriate measures.

“We now need to see the detail of the secondary legislation, which will take forward recommendations from the Grenfell Tower Inquiry Phase 1 report. NFCC is looking forward to engaging with the Home Office at the earliest opportunity, as this is where the nuanced details will sit. It is essential this achieves positive fire safety outcomes.”

According the Home Office, the proposed Fire Safety Bill builds on action already taken to ensure that people feel safe in their homes, and a tragedy like the Grenfell Tower fire never happens again.

The Home Office also announced the publication of the summary of responses received to the Fire Safety Order 2005 call for evidence.