Fire Safety – Changes to the Building Safety Act 2022, are you aware?
Changes under section 156 of the Building Safety Act 2022 (published 3 July 2023)
Are you the responsible person within your business?
Recording your fire risk assessment and other information.
- You must now record the fire risk assessment in full (including all the findings) and the fire safety arrangements for your premises in all circumstances.
- You should make available as much information as possible about fire safety in your premises. This new requirement replaces the previous requirement to record only the significant findings of the risk assessment. It also removes the previous limitations on the circumstances within which you are required to record both the risk assessment and the fire safety arrangements at your premises, such as only being required to record this information if there were five or more employees or where subject to licensing or an alterations notice.
- If you employ a fire risk assessor to assist you in completing a fire risk assessment, you must record their name, and where applicable their organisation name. This will ensure there is a clear record for enforcing authorities as to who completed the assessment and will enable you to share this information with both residents (where applicable) and any incoming Responsible Person after you. You are responsible for ensuring that your fire risk assessment is suitable and sufficient and if you employ someone to do this for you we would recommend that you ensure they are competent to do so.
Cooperation and coordination between Responsible Persons.
It is important that you work with other Responsible Persons in the premises to help facilitate a cohesive approach to fire safety throughout the entire building. As such, you must take such steps as are reasonably practicable to identify whether there are any other Responsible Persons in your premises who share or have duties in respect of it.
For example, in multi-occupancy commercial buildings, other Responsible Persons would not only include the other businesses, but would also include a landlord (and possibly a managing agent) who has overall responsibility for the safety within the building.
Once you have identified that there are other Responsible Person/s, you will need to inform each other of your names (or that of someone acting on your behalf) and a UK based address where you are able to receive notices or other documentation.
It will also be necessary to inform each other of the extent of your responsibilities under the Fire Safety Order and make a record of this information. You should know the extent to which you are responsible for the premises, which may be detailed in a contract, but, if you are unsure, we advise you to contact the building owner or manager to determine the extent of your control.
You should provide any information in writing, and it is advised that you record this in such a way that it can be readily accessed if you need it as evidence of information sharing. You are required to keep a record of the information provided about the extent of your duties in relation to the premises.
It is vital that your fire risk assessment, and any fire safety measures you take as a result, align with, and complement, the fire risk assessment(s) and fire safety measures for the rest of the building in order to provide a whole-building approach to fire safety.
Whenever possible, you should let the other Responsible Persons know when you have a new Responsible Person taking over your part of the premises, so that they can provide the necessary information detailed above to the incoming Responsible Person.
Duties of Responsible Persons for buildings which contain two or more sets of domestic premises
The following new duties also apply when your building contains two or more sets of domestic premises:
Provision of information to residents
The amendments made to the Fire Safety Order should make people feel safer in their homes and ensure that residents understand what you are doing to comply with your responsibilities. We have already mandated specific instructions that you must provide to your residents under the Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022, but these new requirements go further to enhance the provision of information and help residents feel informed and involved. It is also important that you record your name and a UK address in the fire risk assessment to make it easier for enforcement authorities to identify you and, where necessary, take enforcement action.
You must provide residents with the following information:
- any risks to residents identified in the fire risk assessment
- the fire safety measures provided for the safety of any or all occupants (such as the means of escape, the measures to restrict the spread of fire and what people should do in the event of a fire)
- the name and UK address of the Responsible Person
- the identity of any person appointed to assist with making or reviewing the fire risk assessment
- the identity of any competent person nominated by the Responsible Person to implement firefighting measures
- any risks to relevant persons throughout the building that have been identified by other Responsible Persons in the building
You should consider providing contact details, if different to your contact details as the Responsible Person, for residents to be able to inform you of any concerns or queries they have about fire safety matters or the information provided to them.
The government may, by regulation, update the list of information to be provided to residents to reflect future developments in fire safety and specify the frequency and format in which the information should be provided.
The Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 already mandate fire safety instructions that must be shared with residents of multi-occupied domestic premises where resident evacuation would be through common parts, such as the evacuation strategy, how to report a fire and what they must do when a fire occurs.
In addition, the Regulations require Responsible Persons to provide information on fire doors, including that they should be kept shut when not in use, that residents should not tamper with self-closing devices and that residents should report any faults with doors immediately. The Regulations stipulate that information on fire safety instructions should be displayed in a conspicuous part of the building, with a copy provided to new residents when they move in and existing residents on an annual basis.
If you are the Responsible Person for a building located in England, you should provide both the instructions required under the Regulations and the information required as a result of the changes to the Fire Safety Order.