Fire Safety Bill sets out resi responsibilities
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:
- regular inspections of lifts and the reporting of results to the local fire and rescue services
- ensuring evacuation plans are reviewed and regularly updated and personal evacuation plans are in place for residents whose ability to evacuate may be compromised
- ensuring fire safety instructions are provided to residents in a form that they can reasonably be expected to understand
- ensuring individual flat entrance doors, where the external walls of the building have unsafe cladding, comply with current standards.
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.”