Over the last few years, the fire protection industry has been defined by large-scale regulatory shifts. As leaders in fire protection compliance, we welcome any changes that raise the bar on...Continue Reading
Over the last few years, the fire protection industry has been defined by large-scale regulatory shifts. As leaders in fire protection compliance, we welcome any changes that raise the bar on safeguarding buildings and their occupants. That’s why in this article, we will be covering a series of regulatory changes that are on the horizon.
The Fire Safety Reform Programme enters its third phase on 1st October 2023. This will introduce changes to The Regulatory Reform Order 2005, which was preceded by the promulgation of the Fire Safety Act in 2021 and the publication of Fire Safety Regulations in 2022.
The changes relate primarily to risk assessments, record keeping, and sharing information related to fire safety. The regulator is to be tasked with enforcing compliance in buildings higher than seven storeys that have two or more residential units or hospitals or care homes under construction. This post will delve into the implications of these changes for building owners, landlords and those designated as responsible for fire protection.
How do the October 2023 updates affect existing fire safety regulations?
By implementing the amendments at the beginning of October 2023, regulators hope to achieve the following:
- Improved cooperation between Responsible Persons (RPs) and building owners
- More stringent management of fire safety information and record-keeping throughout a building’s lifespan
- Greater ease in the enforcement of fire safety regulations by authorities
- Comprehensive access to fire safety information so residents can feel safe
Those who are familiar with the “Golden Thread” principle proposed in the Hackitt report will recognize the updates as a further move towards putting its proposals into practice. The report recommends that detailed records pertaining to fire safety should be kept throughout the lifespan of a building. RPs are required to make these records available to their successors, as well as to residents who wish to be informed about a building’s fire safety status.
Throughout the lifecycle of a building, ongoing maintenance and degradation can hinder regulatory compliance. As a result, an RP must commission regular inspections by a “competent person” who will assess, report and remediate fire risks. Building owners and managers will be required to mitigate these risks, and all information that may have relevance to fire safety must be recorded. Successive RPs will use and maintain these records, and they should be made available to residents in the interest of transparency.
What are the implications of the October 2023 updates for fire safety compliance?
One of the most significant implications is that regulators will have greater power to ensure adherence to fire safety standards. A new Building Safety Regulator (BSR) is to be introduced, with powers to enforce penalties ranging from fines to prison sentences against those who fail to comply with the regulations.
The Home Office says that it will publish guidance on how the changes affect the duties of RPs before 1st October 2023. However, the relevant legislation has already been published, and it is possible to begin preparations for compliance in advance of a simplified guide being issued.
How can Responsible Persons prepare for the October 2023 updates?
To remain compliant with Section 156 of the Building Safety Act of 2022, RPs must ensure that risk assessments are carried out by a “competent person” at least every five years and that any issues they uncover are swiftly addressed. Assessment records and evidence of remediation must also be kept and presented in case residents wish to have access to them.
The amendment says that a “competent person” would have “sufficient training and experience or knowledge.” Although the Home Office says that they will not be requiring RPs to ensure competence as of yet, they are currently in discussion with the building industry and will provide further information shortly.
Ensuring that safety surveys and records pass muster by 1st October will be a priority for RPs, and experienced fire safety professionals will be able to assist. Choose experts in the field to ensure that you adhere to the highest standards.
CLM Fireproofing are experts in fire protection compliance and remediation and are dedicated to helping clients adhere to fire protection regulations and industry best practices. If you want to make sure you are abreast of the latest regulatory updates, contact our specialists today.