The fire at Grenfell Tower represented the greatest loss of life in a residential fire in the UK since the Second World War; the subsequent review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety concluded that fundamental reform was required and, as a result, the government has drafted two new pieces of legislation that are currently proceeding through parliament – these are the Building Safety Bill and The Fire Safety Bill.
The Building Safety Bill will introduce a new national Building Safety Regulator to oversee safety in high-risk properties (any multi-occupancy residential buildings of more than six storeys / 18 metres or more in height) and, in the process, change the way UK fire safety is regulated.
The Fire Safety Bill only applies to England and Wales – separate fire safety legislation is in place in Scotland and Northern Ireland; it is designed to clarify the extent to which existing fire safety legislation – The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 – is applied to any building containing two or more sets of domestic premises. The key revisions will mean that the building’s structure, external walls (including openings and attached structures – such as balconies) and any common parts, including the front doors of residential areas, are included in the scope of The Order; as a result of this changed definition, increased enforcement action will be possible – especially where corrective work involving aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding is not being completed.
Research conducted by a legal firm showed that fines for breaches of fire safety legislation increased by 35% in the period immediately after Grenfell and more enforcement action from Fire and Rescue Authorities is anticipated as a result of the Bill’s clarifications – penalties for major breaches currently include potentially unlimited fines and up to 2 years in prison.
What needs to be done?
These bills are currently only in draft form and Kingfisher Professional Services will provide more detailed guidance once they become law – in the meantime, ensure that a fire risk assessment of your premises has been completed (by a suitably competent person) and that it is reviewed regularly. If you require any further assistance around construction, fire or other safety matters, please contact Kingfisher Professional Services Ltd.