The Fire Safety Bill 2020 – Everything You Need to Know About The Fire Safety Bill 2020

Following high profile cases of negligent fire safety practises in domestic buildings, namely Grenfell in 2017, people across England are pushing for the enforcement of better fire safety for residential spaces and increased responsibility of those who own and manage these buildings.

The Fire Safety Bill, introduced in March 2020, offers clarification over the responsibility for fire safety and will be influential, once officially in place, in the protection and financial standing of residents. Ultimately, this bill, and other related bills, will improve fire safety standards to prevent tragedies and save lives.

What Is The Fire safety Bill?

The Fire safety Bill is an amend to the existing statutes in England and Wales for minimum fire safety standards; the Regulatory Reform (Fire safety) Order 2005. This order outlines the ‘Responsible Person’ who has the duty to identify, manage and reduce the risk of fire, and empowers enforcing authorities to enforce the mandated standard of fire safety. However, the order covers all non-domestic properties and the communal areas of residential buildings containing multiple homes.

The Fire Safety Bill 2020, therefore, extends the remit of the previous order to cover responsibility and enforcement of fire safety in more areas of buildings containing more than one home, and the fire aspects included, namely fire doors.

As stated by the UK Parliament, the Fire safety Bill is:

“A Bill to make provision about the application of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 where a building contains two or more sets of domestic premises; and to confer power to amend that order in future for the purposes of changing the premises to which it applies.”

Following the Grenfell Tower Inquiry, the bill was introduced to parliament in March 2020, with various stages of amends following.

The purpose of the bill is to make it clearer who is responsible for the fire safety in multi-occupancy residencies (buildings containing more than one home), clarify who is financially responsible for the correction of non-compliant fire safety measures, and give enforcement agencies heightened power against non-compliance.

Fire safety Bill Contents

One of the key components of The Fire safety Bill is the proposition to extend the responsibility of the building owner or manger. These additional responsibilities would be to manage the risk of:

  • The structure and external walls of the building (e.g. cladding, balconies and windows)
  • Entrance doors to individual flats that open into communal areas

These proposed additional responsibilities would include aspects of fire safety such as insulation, fire doors, external cladding (the non-compliant aspect that so spread the fire at Grenfell), as well as evacuation plans, regular inspections and generally ensuring the building complies with fire safety standards.

The bill also contains clarification on the needs for fire risk assessors to have specialist knowledge in order to decide on the compliance of fire safety elements.

The team of certified installers of passive fire protection at CPFP accredited by the IFCC are deemed competent persons with the desired specialist knowledge to complete fire risk assessments. We also offer a range of building structure fire measure installation services, including fire doors and cavity barriers, able to assist building owners and managers in the improvement of their multioccupancy building’s fire safety.

Leaseholder and Tenants: Fire Safety Bill

Amendments to the bill in Spring 2021 have been proposed by the House of Lords to relieve tenants and leaseholders of their previous responsibility to pay for reparations to non-compliant fire safety measures, such as the removal of unsafe cladding. Read this informative article from IFSEC Global for a breakdown of the proposed amendments and considerations by the House of Commons.

As of yet, the remedial costs of building fire safety may still fall onto leaseholders.

There have been announcements of government funding to remove unsafe cladding from high-rise buildings, however the grants don’t include buildings below 18 metres. Thus, leaseholders of lower-rise blocks are still forced to pay costs.

Is The Fire safety Bill Law?

As of April 2021, The Fire Safety Bill is not yet law and is in the stage of ‘ping pong’; transferred between the House of Commons and Lords for various amendments and agreement/disagreement. Only once all proposed amendments have been considered and agreed upon will the bill be subject to Royal assent.

There are many steps within the procedure of creating laws, involving both the Houses and various committee stages. The process of turning a bill into law can, and usually does, take multiple years.

Although the bill is not yet law, it has passed through multiple initial readings, reports and considerations, and is now in the final few stages, indicating a near certainty that it will soon be law.

Actions To Take From Fire Safety Bill

Although the bill is still making its way through parliament, the changes to fire safety responsibilities and standards in domestic buildings with multiple homes will be implemented in due course. Building owners and managers of these buildings will face more responsibilities for the prevention of tragedies.

Regular fire risk assessments should already be conducted in line with the Fire Safety Order 2005, but now the assessments should include fire entrance doors and external wall systems.

Building owners and managers should prepare for and begin additional responsibilities:

  • Regular lift inspections
  • Reporting to local fire and rescue services
  • Regular review of evacuation plan and resident awareness
  • Provide fire safety instructions to residents
  • Check all fire doors

Owners and managers of multi-occupancy domestic buildings should stay aware of further legislation which may hold them and even construction companies liable for failure to comply with building regulations; the Building Safety Bill.

The Building Safety Bill

A draft of the Building Safety Bill was published in July 2020, also as a result of the Grenfell tragedy. It has yet to be examined by a parliamentary committee so is not yet finalised, but if it completes the relevant stages, it is expected to become law in 2023.

See the draft bill here.

The Building Safety Bill intends to enhance and create new regulatory regimes for building safety as well as give residents more of a say. The bill proposes strengthened enforcement and sanctions for non-compliance concerning high-rise buildings – the bill denotes ‘high-risk’ buildings assumed to mean those over 18 metres. The bill also mentions new build homes and proposed changes for all building projects with increased liability for building regulation non-compliance.

Essentially, high-rise domestic buildings particularly, but a range of newer buildings, will be scrutinised for their building regulation compliance, including fire safety, with building owners, managers and even construction companies facing large sanctions for non-compliance.

Professional Passive Fire Protection with CPFP

Ensure you fire doors and other fire safety measures are up to current standards with CPFP. We are an IFCC certified installer of passive fire protection measures, offering a range of compliant, professionally installed services to keep the spread of fire, smoke and heat contained.

We regularly undertake projects conducting remedial works on poorly installed, non-compliant fire safety measures, bringing them up to standard. Having worked on residential, commercial and industry premises, we have the extensive experience and industry specialist knowledge to make your building safe and save lives.

Get in touch to make your building compliant!

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