The law requires the Responsible Person to assess fire risks and have the audit trail to prove they have done so. The Fire Risk Assessment, and the actions taken to prove any high risk recommendations were acted upon are together critical to defend an investigation.
We carry out Fire Door Inspection Surveys, Fire Risk Assessments and project manage all things compartmentation and external wall systems 'EWS1' and PAS 9980
Introduction to Fire Assessments
Serious and now infamous fires such as Bradford City F.C., Kings Cross Underground Station, Lakanal House and Grenfell Tower resulted in periodic updates to Fire Safety guidelines and Legislation, including the Fire Precautions Act 1971 and the Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations 1997. These and other Regulations were replaced by the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, which removed the responsibility for issuing Fire Certificates from the Fire Brigade, putting the obligation to ensure Fire Safety onto the ‘Responsible Person’.
Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 requires that the Responsible Person must ensure a Fire Risk Assessment is carried out by a competent person.
The 2005 Order applies to all premises and nearly every kind of building, structure, or open space. It does not apply to homes and flats individually, but does apply to blocks or estates containing flats, since these have common areas. The 2005 Order requirements are a statutory obligation and the Responsible Person risks fines or imprisonment (see Section 32 of Part 4 of the Order) if they fail to comply.
The Fire Safety Act 2021 amends the 2005 Order and extends it to include the structure, external walls and common parts (as well as all doors between the domestic premises and common parts) where a building contains two or more sets of domestic premises. The requirement to inspect domestic doors, currently applies to buildings of any height in Wales only, but from January 2023 will apply in England to properties in excess of 11m in height.
The Building Safety Bill seeks to enact much of the Hackitt Review. It will establish a Building Safety Regulator to implement and oversee a stringent regime that will drive improvements in building safety for higher-risk buildings, as well as, performance standards in all buildings. It will also strengthen the obligations under The 2005 Order and seeks to ensure residents have a stronger voice and to create a new Homes Ombudsman Scheme. Access to redress will be extended to 30 years (by modifying limitation periods the under the Defective Premises Act 1972). It will therefore affect developers, owners, managers and occupiers of higher-risk buildings (currently defined as buildings with at least two residential units and at least 18 metres in height or seven storeys - measured to the floor level of the top storey, as opposed to ceiling or roof level).
PAS 9980: 2022 Government review of the ongoing cladding crisis, concluded the approach of the EWS1 scheme, was often too risk adverse and become part of the problem, not the solution. It is against this background, the British Standards Institute published the publicly available specification (PAS), a Code of Practice to provide a framework, for conducting fire risk appraisals of external wall construction and cladding (FRAEW), to assess the risk posed by potentially combustible materials, in a more holistic, contextual and risk-based professional judgement.
The duty to carry out a Fire Risk Assessment
The Act legally requires a Fire Risk Assessment to be carried out by a competent person (someone who has been trained specifically to carry out the Assessment). The purpose of the Fire Risk Assessment is to investigate what potential dangers exist in the property and what courses of action are recommended to deal with them. The person(s) in control of the building have a responsibility, to show what has been done to minimise the dangers and what procedures are in place, to manage potential fires should one occur. This should include drawing up a plan of action to deal with emergencies, protecting the property from flammable or explosive materials that may be stored on site, and holding regular reviews of the Fire Risk Assessment.
The “responsible person” under the legislation is the Freeholder, Director of a Management Company and the Agents of these entities. The duty explicitly extends to all occupants including employees, visitors, contractors, and passers-by whom must be considered when preparing the Fire Risk Assessment. Even if your property has only recently been built, the requirements of the Act remain unchanged. A former Fire Certificate alone is no longer valid.
The legal requirements are to:
- Appoint a responsible person to assume responsibility for fire safety,
- Carry out a regular fire risk assessment (recommended annually) to identify the risks and hazards based on the construction activities and management of the building.
- Monitor risk on an ongoing basis,
- Train staff and keep records.
Dealing with the responsibility - 2 stages:
Stage 1 - Risk Assessment Survey & Report
Ringley carry out a survey and compile a report on the building to gather information to produce both a Health and Safety Assessment (a mandatory requirement under The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999) and a Fire Risk Assessment (a mandatory requirement under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005), which includes an assessment of the external walls, concluding whether a separate PAS 9980 FRAEW is required. The survey/risk assessment uses two concepts throughout:
- To identify hazards – something that has the potential to cause harm.
- To identify risks – the chance, high or low, of that harm occurring.
The underlying concepts are:
- Identify potential fire hazards in the workplace,
- Identify people at risk,
- Evaluate, remove, reduce and protect from risk,
- Record, plan, inform, instruct and train,
- Plan for regular review,
- Prepare an Emergency specific to the ‘workplace’ and will detail the pre-planned procedures in place for use in the event of a fire.
Stage 2 - Implementation of control measures and works
Implementation includes drafting a schedule of control measures and implementation works. At Ringley, our Fire Risk Assessment generates necessary actions, which automatically pass to our Property Management team, to budget for Major Works where necessary. Ringley Building Surveying & FM can then implement these remediation works, by identifying suitable contractors to invite to tender, analysing tenders and appointing a contractor as well as project managing the works on site, through our Contract Administration Services.
What can we do for you?
Ringley can act as your Managing Agent and therefore become the “responsible person” Ringley’s Building Surveying & FM Team can carry out a comprehensive Fire Risk Assessment and build you a fire emergency evaluation plan (FEEP).
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