Table of contents
- The Fire Safety Act 2021
- What does the Fire Safety Act do and how will this affect your business?
- Fire risk assessments
- Information on commencement of sections 1 and 3 of the Fire Safety Act
- Detailed external wall assessment
- Share information with the fire service
- If you require help with a fire risk assessment just contact us below
The Fire Safety Act 2021
The Fire Safety Act 2021 which adds to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. The new law came into effect on the 16th May 2022
What does the Fire Safety Act do and how will this affect your business?
In the case of multi-occupied residential buildings, the Fire Safety Act 2021 puts beyond doubt that structure, external walls and flat entrance doors fall within the scope of the Fire Safety Order. The Fire Safety Act will require Responsible Persons to ensure that these elements are included in their fire risk assessments, if they have not been covered already.
Fire risk assessments
A fire risk assessment is required by the Fire Safety Order to assess fire safety risks relevant to both workplaces and buildings with two or more sets of domestic premises. It is the duty of the Responsible Person to ensure that this is carried out, although they may appoint someone on their behalf, such as a competent fire risk assessor, to carry it out.
Information on commencement of sections 1 and 3 of the Fire Safety Act
Section 1 of the Fire Safety Act
Clarifies that where a building contains two or more sets of domestic premises the Responsible Person must take account of structure, external walls and flat entrance doors in a fire risk assessment.
Section 3 of the Fire Safety Act
If a Responsible Person has not complied with the guidance or the prioritisation tool they may need to provide alternative evidence of how they have complied with this aspect of their Fire Safety Order obligations. Where the Responsible Person has already updated their fire risk assessment to include external walls.
For many buildings, particularly high rise, it is expected that Responsible Persons will already be aware of the composition of external walls and will have updated their fire risk assessment and have taken, or will take action to mitigate any risk.
Where this assessment has been carried out, for multi-occupied residential buildings of any height, the fire risk assessment does not need to be updated again other than after a review as required by article 9 of the Fire Safety Order. Where the fire risk assessment has not already been updated to include external walls The Responsible Person, or competent fire risk assessor acting on their behalf, should undertake a visual inspection of the external walls. In many cases it will be manifestly obvious through a visual inspection that the risk to life from external fire spread is not such as to warrant a PAS 9980 assessment. This is particularly true in buildings with brick or masonry external walls or low risk buildings which do not present any significant risk of fire spread. In these cases, the fire risk assessor will normally address compliance of external wall construction with the Fire Safety Order as part of the routine fire risk assessment process.
Detailed external wall assessment
A more detailed fire risk appraisal of the external walls under PAS 9980 may be required if, for example, there is a known or suspected risk from the form of construction used for the external wall, such as the presence of combustible materials used for cladding or external wall insulation. Where a more detailed fire risk appraisal is required the Fire Risk Assessment Prioritisation Tool may be used to determine the urgency of the inspection.
Conducting a more detailed external walls assessment In cases where a more detailed assessment is required, a competent person should be appointed. PAS 79-2:20202 and PAS 9980 provide guidance. Where a more detailed PAS 9980 fire risk appraisal – called Fire Risk Appraisal of the External Wall system (FRAEW in PAS 9980) – is conducted it should provide the Responsible Person with recommendations on remedial action considered necessary, with a suitable time frame that takes into account both the nature of the works required for remediation and any recommended interim measures.
Share information with the fire service
External wall information sharing obligations on Responsible Persons The Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 will make it a legal requirement for Responsible Persons of existing high-rise residential buildings in England to provide their local fire and rescue service with information about the design and materials of the building’s external walls and to inform their local fire and rescue service of any material changes made to them.
It is recommended that the Fire Risk Assessment Prioritisation Tool is used by Responsible Persons to determine how soon fire risk assessments should be updated in relation to external wall construction.
Responsible Persons should consider or take advice on whether maisonettes should have a fire risk assessment. This should be considered against the definition of ‘domestic premises’ provided in article 2 of the Fire Safety Order noting that domestic premises (that is, individual flats) do not fall within scope of the Fire Safety Order.
Where a Responsible Person considers that a fire risk assessment, including the external walls, is required, they should consider its level of prioritisation based on a range of fire safety factors (for example, presence of smoke alarms, evacuation and cladding). Use of the Fire Risk Assessment Prioritisation Tool may be helpful in informing Responsible Persons how soon such fire risk assessments should be updated. Structure The intention for inclusion of ‘structure’ within the Fire Safety Act is that there should be a visual inspection of the construction and layout of the building on the basis that it will have been built to resist early structural collapse in the event of a fire. Intrusive inspections are only required if the fire risk assessor has serious concerns about the structural fire protection of the building.