New Fire Safety Improvement Regulations Post-Grenfell Disaster

The Grenfell Tower fire in London in 2017 brought significant attention to the fire safety regulations governing high-rise residential buildings in the UK. 

In response to recommendations from the Grenfell Tower Inquiry and the independent Hackitt review, the government enacted crucial measures. The Building Safety Act of 2022 strengthened building safety and control regulations, providing local authorities with enhanced enforcement powers against building regulation violations. 

The new safety improvement regulations, specifically outlined in Article 32 of the Fire Safety Order and Section 156 of the Building Safety Act, introduce stringent measures and increased penalties for non-compliance. 

Additionally, the Fire Safety Act of 2021 clarified responsibilities in shared blocks, compelling responsible persons to include external walls and flat entrance doors in fire risk assessments. New duties, such as sharing information with residents and conducting regular checks of fire doors in blocks over 11 meters, were introduced to prioritise the safety of residents in the aftermath of the tragedy.

The new safety improvement regulations require comprehensive recording of fire risk assessments and fire safety arrangements for all premises. This replaces the previous requirement to document only significant findings and removes limitations on when to record this information. When employing a fire risk assessor, it is necessary to record their name, ensuring competency, and providing clear records for authorities and future Responsible Persons.

The regulations highlight the importance of cooperation and coordination among Responsible Persons within a building, especially in multi-occupancy commercial structures. In higher-risk residential buildings, cooperation with Accountable Persons is crucial for a whole-building approach to safety, including sharing fire risk assessments.

Further to this, Responsible Persons must consistently provide fire safety information to incoming Responsible Persons, ensuring a continual record of safety information throughout a building’s lifetime. Any disputes surrounding fire safety cooperation duties should be addressed initially with accountable individuals, landlords, or freeholders, escalating to relevant enforcement authorities if necessary.

Offences under the Fire Safety Order, committed by Responsible Persons or other individuals with duties, as well as offences applicable to any person, are clearly defined. Notably, Section 156 of the Building Safety Act elevates fines for specific offences, such as intentionally deceptive impersonation of a fire inspector, failure to comply with inspector requirements (e.g., providing the fire risk assessment when requested), and non-compliance with installation requirements for luminous tube signs, from Level 3 (£1,000) to Level 5 (unlimited). 

This alignment with the level of fines for other offences serves as an increased deterrent against non-compliance. It’s essential to note that these fines will take effect from the legislation’s implementation date.

Contact us to schedule your complimentary consultation.