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FIRE SAFETY ACT ENFORCEMENT SIGNALS VITAL CHANGE FOR DUTY HOLDER RESPONSIBILITY, STATES BUREAU VERITAS

Enforcement of the Fire Safety Act 2021 [introduced on 16 May 2022] has finally opened the way for the government to begin the process of regulating the strengthened Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (FSO), signalling several important changes for landlords and duty holders.

Leading fire safety and compliance expert, Bureau Veritas is now urging those responsible for multi-occupancy buildings to update risk assessments in line with the new standards to ensure utmost safety for tenants.

The Fire Safety Act was given Royal Assent last year and amended the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005; aiming to make it clearer where responsibility for fire safety lies. The new laws apply to buildings containing more than one home that are taller than 18 metres (or six/seven storeys) in height and will be enforced by local Fire & Rescue Services.

Responding to the outcomes of the Hackitt Review, the Act introduces new areas of a building that must be included in a fire risk assessment. It is now mandatory that external wall systems including windows and balconies, individual occupants’ entrance doors and fire doors in any common parts such as staircases are included in an assessment – these were all previously voluntary.

John O’Sullivan MBE, Technical Director – Fire Consultancy at Bureau Veritas, states: “The Fire Safety Act regulations will be far reaching, requiring additional measures to be taken by Responsible Persons, especially those accountable for multiple occupied residential buildings, and are designed to assist residents and fire and rescue services. The FSO regulations, which are linked to the recent commencement of the Building Safety Act 2022, will therefore introduce further fire safety provisions, including a direct requirement to ensure those who are employed to assist in fire risk assessment are competent.

John
O’Sullivan

Technical Director – Fire Consultancy

Bureau Veritas

This represents a significant step forward in the government’s ambition to raise building fire safety standards, something we at Bureau Veritas strongly support.

With the Act being passed over a year ago, duty holders have had sufficient time fully comprehend any changes, so it’s now time to take stock and review any current fire risk assessments policies as the Fire Safety Act potentially poses new challenges for duty holders, with the inclusion of the building structure and external walls.

This legislation follows on from various action already taken designed towards strengthening the regulatory system for building safety, including new sprinkler requirements and the recently passed Building Safety Act. The Fire Safety Act also provides a foundation for secondary legislation to take forward recommendations from the Grenfell Tower Inquiry phase one report, including lift inspections, reviewing evacuation plans and fire safety instruction for residents.

John continues: “With these new changes now officially law and risk assessments to be scrutinised by Fire & Rescue Services, the onus for building safety is now firmly placed on duty holders. It may seem a daunting task for to keep on top of the regulations but it’s essential these are done properly. Third party compliance specialists, like Bureau Veritas, are able to conduct thorough fire risk assessments and make recommendations for necessary changes to mitigate the risk to ensure homes remain safe.”

Bureau Veritas offers a comprehensive range of fire and life safety consultancy services to suit all requirements, including fire risk assessment, fire engineering, building control and fire science. The testing, inspection and certification expert offers duty holders the unique opportunity to select the services they require to help improve fire safety management in their buildings, whilst benefitting from the cost-efficiencies of a combined service.

For further information on Bureau Veritas’ expertise and capabilities in building safety, visit its dedicated Building Control hub

May. 20 2022