Implementation of the Fire Safety Regulations 2023 and the Higher-Risk Buildings Regulations 2023

Trellick Tower in London, UK

Almost six years after the tragic Grenfell Tower fire, the Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 came into effect on 23 January 2023. This has ushered in a series of major legislative changes pertaining to the building and fire safety regulations for high-rise buildings all over England. The independent inquiry into the tragedy revealed various loopholes in the construction industry so the new legislation aims to enforce better systems to prevent such tragedies in the future and ensure that every resident living in a high-rise building feels safe in their home.

The new Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 assign a number of duties to the responsible person. These duties include informing residents about fire safety provisions and coordinating maintenance checks with the fire and rescue authorities. The Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management (IWFM) has further in-depth guidance for responsible persons. 

Building Safety Regulator Conference 2023

The inaugural conference of the Building Safety Regulator is scheduled to take place on March 22, 2023, in London. This conference is a must-attend event for anyone in the industry who is committed to ensuring the safety of people and buildings. Attendees will have the opportunity to learn about the significant changes that will come into effect from April 2023 directly from the new Regulator. If you’re interested in attending the conference, you can express your interest here. It’s worth noting that the conference is free to attend.

Draft Higher-Risk Buildings Regulations 2023

Following implementation of the Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022, the government also presented for parliamentary debate the Draft Higher-Risk Buildings Regulations 2023. If approved by both Houses of Parliament, these further regulations for higher-risk buildings in England will come into effect on 6 April 2023.

The Draft Higher-Risk Buildings Regulations 2023 are intended to introduce a more stringent regime for higher-risk buildings than is currently enforced under the Building Safety Act 2022. This new legislation proposes a two-part regime relating to:

  • design and construction of new higher-risk buildings and building works to existing higher-risk buildings; 
  • occupation of higher-risk buildings.

Requirements of the Higher-Risk Building Regulations 2023

The proposed new regulations specify essential information that the person in charge of repairing a building’s structure and exterior (known as the principal accountable person) must provide to the Building Safety Regulator, although this information is not all that will be required for the ‘golden thread’. Additionally, the regulations clarify which parts of a higher-risk building multiple accountable persons are responsible for.

The key building information outlined in the regulations will serve several important purposes, including allowing the Building Safety Regulator to analyse trends and risks in high-rise residential buildings, prioritise safety assessments and identify similar buildings or systems if an issue arises.

These regulations are the second set related to the new building safety regime and follow the scope regulations laid out in December. Further regulations related to building safety are expected to be introduced in the future.

Which Buildings Fall under the Higher-Risk Building Regulations 2023 

The new regime for building safety applies to buildings that are at least 18 metres or seven storeys high and contain at least two residential units. The term ‘residential unit’ encompasses various forms of living accommodation, including flats and shared living spaces in university halls of residence. The regime also covers care homes and hospitals that meet the height requirement.

However, certain types of building are excluded from the regime, such as those that are solely occupied by a secure residential institution, hotels, military barracks, those that contain living accommodation provided by the Ministry of Defence, His Majesty’s forces or visiting forces, and international headquarters designated by the International Headquarters and Defence Organisations Act 1964.

The government’s rationale for excluding hospitals and care homes that are less than 18 metres or seven storeys high is that they are already regulated as workplaces by the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and subject to inspections by local fire and rescue authorities and the Care Quality Commission. Similarly, hotels and secure residential institutions are already regulated by the Order and have additional safety measures in place, such as 24/7 staffing and advanced alarm and detection systems. These exclusions apply to occupied buildings, as opposed to those in the construction phase. Learn more about the Higher-Risk Building Regulations 2023 here.