On the 23rd January 2023 the Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 ("the FSR") came into force. The FSR were laid under article 24 of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
They impose requirements on those building owners or managers who are "responsible persons" namely the persons responsible for the safety of themselves and others who use a "regulated premises". A regulated premises is a premises to which the public have or are permitted access . What is required of the responsible person differs according to the height of the building. The responsible person is usually the freehold owner or landlord of the building.
The Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022:
Some parts of the regulations apply to all multi-occupied residential buildings which contain two or more sets of domestic premises irrespective of the height of the building. The responsible person is required to:
- Fire safety instructions: Display fire safety instructions in a manner that is easy for residents to understand. This includes the evacuation strategy for the building, guidance on how to report a fire, and any other guidance for residents in the event of a fire.
- Fire door information: Provide information to residents relating to the importance of fire doors in fire safety e.g., ensuring they are kept shut when not in use.
Residential Buildings over 11 metres:
For residential buildings over 11 metres the responsible person is required to:
- Fire doors: undertake annual checks of flat entrance doors and quarterly checks of all fire doors in the common parts.
High-rise residential buildings:
The FSR describe a high-rise residential as a building containing two or more sets of domestic premises that is at least 18 metres above ground level or has at least seven storeys.
Building standards and the regulations become more restrictive at this height as fire-fighting tactics change. The responsible person is required to share information electronically about their building to Fire and Rescue Services. This ensures that the Fire Service has the information it needs to respond adequately to potentially the most complex fires.
Under the FSR responsible persons are also required to:
- External wall systems: Provide their local Fire Service information about the design of the external walls of buildings (including construction materials) and to inform the Fire Service any material changes to these walls. Also, they are required to provide information in relation to any identified risk that the design materials gives rise to, and mitigating steps taken.
- Building plans: Provide their local Fire Service with up-to-date electronic building floor plans and to place a hard copy of these plans, alongside a single page building plan which identifies key for fighting equipment, in a secure information box on site.
- Information boxes: Install and maintain a secure information box containing contact details for the responsible person, as well as floor plans and building plans.
- Lifts and other firefighting equipment Carry out monthly checks of the fire lifts and evacuation lifts in their building, and firefighting equipment within the building. They are also required to report any defective lifts or equipment to their local Fire Service as soon as possible. If the fault cannot be fixed within 24 hours, they are to record the outcome of checks and make them accessible to building residents.
- Wayfinding signage: Install signage visible in low light or smoky conditions that identifies flat and floor numbers in the stairwells of relevant buildings.
The FSR made it a legal requirement for responsible persons to provide information to Fire and Rescue to assist them to plan and, where applicable, provide an effective operational response. The FSR also requires responsible persons in multi-occupied residential buildings which are high-rise buildings as well as those above 11 metres in height, to provide additional safety measures.
Sanctions for non-compliance (under Fire Safety Order)
Failure to comply with the FSR could lead to a minor penalty of up to £5000. Major penalties can have unlimited fines and up to 2 years in prison
Following the Hackett Review and the Grenfell Tower Inquiry, the Government continues to implement new legislation and all additional compliance-related duties may be seen as burdensome on responsible persons. However, the FSR have been widely welcomed as a proportionate response that will improve the safety of people in multi-occupied buildings.