The Fire Safety Regulations 2022 come into effect on 23 January 2023. They require the Responsible Persons of existing high-rise residential buildings in England to provide their local fire and rescue service with detailed information about the materials and design of the building’s external walls, as well as any material changes made to them. It is important for responsible persons to familiarise themselves with these regulations and take the necessary steps to ensure compliance.
In this blog post, we explain the purpose of these regulations and what they mean for responsible persons.
Purpose of the Regulations:
Following the tragic Grenfell Tower fire; an inquiry was carried out that revealed various issues in the construction industry. The Phase 1 inquiry report noted: ‘A sound understanding of the materials used in the construction of any high-rise building is essential if the fire and rescue service is to be properly prepared to carry out its function in relation to that building.’
The Fire Safety Regulations 2022 aim to address this by requiring responsible persons to provide the fire and rescue service with information about the design and materials of their building’s external walls, as well as any material changes made to them over their lifetime. This will enable the fire and rescue service to plan accordingly for potential incidents.
The regulations also require responsible persons to provide information about the level of risk that the external wall structure poses and the steps they have taken to mitigate the risk. This information will be useful for both operational firefighting and fire safety inspection purposes.
Meeting the Requirement to Provide Information:
If the responsible persons do not have all the required information with regard to the materials and design of the external walls, they must share the information they do have while they carry out a proper fire risk assessment of the external walls. They must then submit the additional information gained from the fire risk assessment with the fire and rescue service as soon as possible.
Determining the Level of Risk:
The Fire Safety Act 2021 requires that a fire risk assessment of a building with two or more sets of domestic premises should include an assessment of the external wall system. For most high-rise residential buildings, responsible persons are expected to already know what their external wall systems are made of and what steps they have taken to mitigate the risk. However, where this information is not available or where a more in-depth assessment is required, the responsible person should arrange for an assessment relevant to their building’s circumstances and share the details of the assessment with the fire and rescue service, along with the mitigating steps taken as a result.
Sending the Fire Risk Assessment:
The regulations require a ‘record’ of the design of the external wall of the building. This should include details of the materials used and any material changes made, as well as details of the level of risk identified and recorded in the fire risk assessment and the mitigating steps taken by the responsible person to mitigate this risk, such as installing a sprinkler system.
This record must be provided to the fire and rescue service in a standard format; a template will be provided in supporting guidance. While the fire risk assessment may include some of the required information, it is not a substitute for the record required by the regulations.
Liabilities and Legal Consequences
Under the Act, Responsible Persons can be held liable for any breaches of the fire safety duties that they are responsible for. This can include criminal prosecution and fines. It is, therefore important for responsible persons to ensure that they are complying with their fire safety duties and to take appropriate measures to reduce the risk of fire and protect the safety of people on the premises. (https://www.kingsleynapley.co.uk/services/department/criminal-litigation/white-collar-and-financial-crime/health-safety-and-environment/fire-safety-law)
Unsure what your responsibilities are? Get in touch with the MyDek team for free, unbiased help and advice. Links to government web documents Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)