Introduction

Serious fires such as Grenfell, Larkhall House, Bradford City F.C., Kings Cross Underground Station cause Fire Safety Regulation to be updated: most recently the Building Safety Act 2022, thr Fire Safety Act 2021. And The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 before replaced many existing pieces of legislation including the Fire Precautions Act 1971 and the Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations 1997 with a simple, single Order and moved the responsibility for issuing fire certificates from the Fire Brigade to the Responsible 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 don't comply. The primary requirement of the 2005 Order is for the Responsible Person to ensure a Fire Risk Assessment is carried out by a competent person.

The Fire Safety Act 2021 principally amends the 2005 Order and clarifies that it will apply to the structure and external walls and any common parts (as well as all doors between the domestic premises and common parts) of any building containing two or more sets of domestic premises.

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 15 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 as opposed to ceiling or roof level of the highest storey.

The duty to carry out a Fire Risk Assessment

The Act 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 is 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 requirments are to:

  1. Appoint a responsible person to assume responsibility for fire safety,
  2. 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.
  3. Monitor risk on ongoing basis,
  4. Train staff and keep records.

Who is responsible?

Under the Order, anyone who has control in a building or anyone who has a degree of control over certain areas or systems may be designated a “responsible person” for example:

  • The owner or person in control of the property,
  • The employer for those parts of premises they have any control over,
  • The managing agent or owner for common parts of a premises or common fire safety equipment such as fire warning systems or sprinklers.
  • The occupier or tenant of premises that are not workplaces such as a chairperson in a parish hall.
  • Any other person who has some control over a part of a premises may be the responsible person in so far as that control extends.

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). 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:

    1. Identify potential fire hazards in the workplace,
    2. Identify people at risk,
    3. Evaluate, remove, reduce and protect from risk,
    4. Record, plan, inform, instruct and train,
    5. Plan for regular review,
    6. 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. Identifying suitable contractors to invite to tender, analysing tenders and appointing a contractor as well as administering works.

What can we do for you?

Ringley can act as your Managing Agent and therefore become the “responsible person” Ringley’s Building Engineering Team can carry out a Fire Risk Assessment and build you a fire emergency evaluation plan (FEEP).

Further Reference

Fire Safety Law