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2023 – A busy year for fire safety compliance

05 May 2023

The introduction of the Higher Risk Buildings Regulations 2023 and Fire Safety Regulations 2022 are set to improve the quality of fire safety competence and to improve cooperation amongst people responsible for the relevant buildings.

The implementation of new building legislation will have significant implications on those who own, manage and maintain buildings. The Regulations encompass a cultural change in the approach to fire safety with the Government's ambition set to create a safer and lower risk industry.

The Higher Risk Buildings (Key Building information etc.) (England) Regulations 2023

The Regulations came into force on 6 April 2023 and require all existing occupied high-risk buildings to be registered by no later than 1 October 2023. High-risk buildings are those that are structurally over 18 metres in height or 7 plus storeys, and contain at least 2 residential units. Those who fail to comply by October, may be investigated and may face prosecution.

It is now an offence for a building to be occupied without being registered. The Principal Accountable Person (PAP) is responsible for registration and could be held liable. A PAP is a person who holds legal possession of a building or someone under a repairing obligation in relation to its structure or exterior, i.e. a landlord or management company.

The PAP is required to submit key building information for high-risk buildings, including but not limited to:

  • Evacuation strategy of the building
  • Fire and smoke control equipment
  • Structural design type and material used

The PAP has an ongoing duty to notify the Building Safety Regulator of any changes to the key building information within 28 days of becoming aware. Failure to do so may bring about enforcement action.

The Fire Safety Regulations 2022

The Fire Safety Regulations 2022 came into force on 23 January 2023 and have been introduced under Article 24 of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

The Regulations provide new duties for responsible persons and any breach of these may lead to enforcement and subsequent prosecution. It is essential that those responsible for fire safety, understand what their responsibilities are and how to comply. The requirements include the following:

High-rise residential buildings

  • Install and maintain a secure information box on site containing the name and contact details of the responsible person.
  • Provide their local Fire Service with up to date electronic building floor plans and a hard copy to be held in the secure information box.
  • Provide their local Fire Service with information about the design and materials of the external wall system including providing information in relation to the level of risk the design and materials give rise to and any mitigating steps taken.
  • Undertake monthly checks on the operation of firefighting and evacuation lifts as well as functionality checks on firefighting equipment. Any defects must be reported if it cannot be fixed within 24 hours.
  • Install signage visible in low light/smoke which identifies flat and floor numbers in the stairwells.

Residential buildings with storeys over 11 metres

  • Undertake annual checks of flat entrance doors and quarterly checks of all fire doors in the common areas.

Multi-occupied residential buildings

  • Provide fire safety instructions to all residents including how to report a fire and what to do if a fire occurs.
  • Provide all residents with information about fire doors and their importance.

Failure to comply with the Regulations can result in an unlimited fine or up to two years imprisonment.

Authors: Mark Thompson and Misha McKenzie.

If you require any further information regarding the above, then please contact Mark.Thompson@dwf.law

Further Reading