Lessons from Grenfell: The Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022

What matters

What matters next

The Regulations implement most of the recommendations made to the government in the Grenfell Tower Inquiry Phase 1 report which require a change in the Law and impact those responsible for buildings with at least two residential units and common parts.

What should be done to comply with the Regulations?

For all multi-occupied residential buildings, irrespective of height, Responsible Persons must provide residents with:

  • relevant fire safety instructions (which should include the evacuation strategy, details of how to report a fire and other instructions about what to do if a fire occurs); and
  • information about the importance of fire doors which must be provided as soon as reasonably practicable after the resident moves into their flat and then at periods not exceeding 12 months after that

For multi-occupied residential buildings over 11 metres in height (typically these are buildings of five storeys or more), Responsible Persons must:

  • undertake at least quarterly checks on all communal fire doors and do their best to undertake annual checks on flat entrance doors

For high-rise residential buildings (a multi-occupied residential building at least 18 metres in height or 7 or more storeys), Responsible Persons must:

  • share, electronically, with their local fire and rescue service (FRS) information about the building’s external wall system and provide the FRS with electronic copies of floor plans and building plans for the building
  • keep hard copies of the building’s floor plans, in addition to a single page orientation plan of the building, and the name and UK contact details of the responsible person, in a secure information box which is accessible by firefighters
  • install wayfinding signage in all high-rise buildings which is visible in low light conditions
  • establish a minimum of monthly checks of lifts which are for the use of firefighters in high-rise residential buildings, of essential pieces of firefighting equipment and of evacuation lifts for the evacuation of disabled people
  • undertake monthly checks of rising mains and of systems relating to smoke control, fire suppression, fire detection and fire alarms, evacuation alerts and of automatic door opening or closing systems linked to fire detection and fire alarm systems
  • monthly checks must be recorded and the FRS informed if faults found with any firefighting equipment or systems cannot be remedied within 24 hours of when it is detected

What happens in the case of non-compliance?

The consequences of not complying with the Regulations are the same as for breaching the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. The Responsible Person may be issued with an enforcement, alteration or prohibition notice from a Fire and Rescue Authority and may also be prosecuted for serious non-compliance. If convicted, the Responsible Person faces an unlimited fine and/or imprisonment for up to two years.

What happens next?

Further Regulations will be introduced later this year when new fire safety guidance comes into force on 1 October 2023 to improve fire safety in all buildings regulated by the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. These improvements form Phase 3 of the Home Office's fire safety reform programme which is intended to strengthen fire safety in regulated buildings.

It is therefore essential that those responsible for the fire safety of a building understand who is responsible, what their responsibilities are and how to ensure their responsibilities are met. We will continue to support Responsible Persons by publishing a further article on the new requirements.

The new guidance is available at, Fire safety responsibilities under Section 156 of the Building Safety Act 2022 - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Disclaimer

This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given. © Shoosmiths LLP 2024.

Insights

Read the latest articles and commentary from Shoosmiths or you can explore our full insights library.