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Fire Safety Bill sets out resi responsibilities

23 March 2020 | By Neil Gerrard

The government has published a Fire Safety Bill that will put a legal requirement on residential building owners to inspect cladding and fire doors.

The Bill was introduced by the Home Office to parliament last week. If passed, it will amend the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 to clarify that dutyholders for blocks of flats must “manage and reduce the risk of fire” posed by the building’s structure and external walls (including anything attached to them such as windows, cladding, and balconies), as well as all doors between flats and common parts.

The amendments to the legislation will apply to England and Wales and will allow fire and rescue services to take enforcement action and hold building owners to account if they don’t comply.

The government said the bill would provide a foundation for secondary legislation to take forward recommendations from the Grenfell Tower Inquiry phase one report, which stated that building owners and managers of high-rise and multi-occupied residential buildings should be responsible for a number of areas including:

The bill will also give the secretary of state for housing, communities and local government the powers to amend the list of qualifying premises that fall within the scope of the Fire Safety Order by way of secondary legislation, enabling the government to respond to developments in the design and construction of buildings.

Minister for security James Brokenshire said: “We remain committed to implementing the recommendations made following phase one of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry, and the government has already made major reforms to building safety.

“Today’s bill will help bring about meaningful change to improving building safety.”

Chair of the National Fire Chiefs Council Roy Wilsher added: “I am pleased to see the announcement of the new Fire Safety Bill. We have been calling for additional powers since 2017 and these changes should contribute to the public feeling safer in their homes.

“We look forward to seeing additional supportive measures to assist fire and rescue services, identify different types of cladding and take appropriate measures.”

Comments

This really does not go far enough. How are you going to ensure that the Regulations are being followed? Who is going to monitor and inspect these buildings? Whilst the cladding contributed massively to the Grenfell disaster there has been little said about the cause of ignition. I have not seen any comments about the class of electrical wiring for essential life-saving circuits. Surely a metal-clad fireproof cable is a necessity.

WilliamGeoffrey Williams, 23 March 2020

I am a Lift Consultant. Part of my duties is to inspect lifts and comment on the safety of lifts and the standard of maintenance provided by Lift Contractors. The standard of maintenance on lifts I have seen over the last 30 years, especially regarding cleanliness, is very poor indeed. The equipment within the lift shaft draws in dust and dirt as it moves up and down the lift shaft. The equipment becomes covered in an oily fibres which can easily catch fire from a discarded cigarette. There were compulsory inspections of lift established by 'SAFed' (The Safety Assessment Federation) to test and inspect lifts on a regular basis. These inspections are no longer compulsory. In the light of new legislation, I suggest these tests be re-instated.

William Jennings, 24 March 2020

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