Improving Fire Safety: Amendments to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (s. 156 of the Building Safety Act 2022)


What is proposed and why:

Initial regulations for fire safety legal provisions within s.156 of the Building Safety Act 2022 have been laid in Parliament and are set to come into force on 1st October 2023. S.156 makes a number of amendments to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 to improve fire safety in all buildings regulated by the 2005 Order. These improvements form the 3rd phase of the Home Office's fire safety reform programme following on from Phase 1, the Fire Safety Act 2021 and Phase 2, the Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 ( see here for our article on Phase 2).

The regulations are primarily focused on improving cooperation and coordination between Responsible Persons who are defined as the persons responsible for the safety of themselves and others who use a regulated premises, for example building owners or managers. The regulations increase the requirement of recording and sharing of fire safety information with the intention of a continual dialogue between Responsible Persons. This also extends to ensuring residents have access to comprehensive information regarding fire safety for their building.

The following duties are now imposed if you are the Responsible Person for any building regulated by the Fire Safety Order:

  • Risk assessment & competence-Article 9A

The Responsible Person must not appoint an individual to assist them with making or reviewing an assessment under article 9 unless that person is competent.

A "competent individual "is defined by the Article as an individual who has sufficient training and experience or knowledge and other qualities to enable the individual to properly assist in making or reviewing the assessment. Where the Responsible Person appoints more than one individual, the Responsible Person must plan to ensure adequate cooperation between them.

  • Provision of information to residents of domestic premises-Article 21A, 

This article applies in relation to a building containing two or more sets of domestic premises and emphasises that the Responsible Person must give residents comprehensible and relevant information about fire safety matters and must keep records of the "relevant fire safety matters".

Relevant fire safety matters as defined by the Article are:

  • the risks to residents identified by the fire risk assessment
  • the preventative and protective measures
  • the name of the Responsible Person and an address in the UK at which the responsible person, or someone acting on their behalf, will accept notices and other documents
  • the identity of any person appointed by the Responsible Person to assist them with making or reviewing an assessment under article 9
  • the identity of any persons nominated by the Responsible Person under article 13(3)b
  • any risks of which the Responsible Person has been informed under article 22(1)c
  • any other matters specified in regulations made by the "relevant authority"

The relevant authority in relation to premises in England, means the Secretary of State and in relation to Wales means the Welsh Ministers. All the relevant fire safety information provided to residents is to be provided at such times, and in such form, as may be specified in regulations made by the relevant authority.

  • Provision on information to new responsible person-Article 22A

This article provides that where a person, the "outgoing person" is no longer the responsible person for a premises, the "new responsible person" becomes the responsible person for the premises in place of the outgoing person. The outgoing person is required to give the new responsible person any relevant fire safety information.

  • Cooperation with accountable persons-Article 22B, 

This article applies to premises which consist of or include a residential unit in a higher-risk building. The responsible person is required to take steps that are reasonably practicable to establish whether there are one or more other persons who are accountable persons in relation to the premises. If there are, the responsible person must cooperate with each accountable person for the purpose of the accountable person carrying out their duties under the Building Safety Act 2022.

In a nutshell, the upcoming fire safety guidance reforms the building safety framework by increasing the requirement of recording and sharing of fire safety information, ensuring residents have access to comprehensive information about fire safety in their building and improves cooperation and coordination between responsible persons.

This blog is part of a series published by Howard Kennedy LLP on the Building Safety Act. For more information, please contact Shade Mushayandebvu, Stuart Duffy or Mark Pritchard. For other blogs, please click here.

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