New Fire Safety Bill Published
Published: 25 Mar 2020

The Government have published a new Fire Safety Bill, which builds on action already taken in response to the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

It proposes amendments to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order SI 2005/1541, in order to clarify that the responsible person or duty-holder for multi-occupied, residential buildings must manage and reduce the risk of fire for:

  • the structure and external walls of the building, including cladding, balconies and windows; and
  • entrance doors to individual flats that open into common parts.

The clarification seeks to empower fire and rescue services to take enforcement action and hold building owners to account if they are not compliant.

The Bill will also give the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government powers to amend the list of qualifying premises that fall within the scope of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order SI 2005/1541. This will enable the Government to respond quickly to developments in the design and construction of buildings.

James Brokenshire, Minister for Security, commented:

"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."

The new Bill was also welcomed by the Chair of the National Fire Chiefs Council, Roy Wilsher: "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."

This Bill provides the Government with their starting point for creating further legislation to adopt some of the recommendations that came about following the Grenfell Tower inquiry phase one report. It was stated that building owners and managers of high-rise and multi-occupied residential buildings should be responsible for ensuring:

  • regular lift inspections, and reporting of results to the local fire and rescue services;
  • evacuation plans are regularly reviewed and updated;
  • personal evacuation plans for residents who would have difficulties in an evacuation;
  • fire safety instructions are provided to residents in a clear, easy to understand manner;
  • individual flat entrance doors, where external walls of the building have unsafe cladding, comply with current standards.

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