With the Fire Safety Bill now passed as legislation, there are new legal responsibilities placed on the duty-holder and building owner for multi-occupied, residential buildings.
The Fire Safety Act 2021 has been designed to amend the Fire Safety Order 2005, with new responsibilities for duty holders, building owners and Facility Managers or ‘responsible persons’, based upon the recommendations made from the Grenfell Tower Inquiry.
- The structure and external walls of the building (e.g. cladding, balconies and windows)
- Entrance doors to individual flats that open into communal areas
Says Phil Bryant, Amthal Head of Strategic Accounts: “The Fire Safety Act 2021 comes as part of an extensive set of planned new measures, including the forthcoming Building Safety Bill, all designed to ensure residents of high rise buildings feel safer in their homes. Specifically here, the new Act aims to reduce fire risks and ensure the tragedy of Grenfell Tower is never repeated.
“The main aim of the Act is to minimise fire risks by ensuring that residential buildings are properly managed. But this places enormous new responsibilities on duty holders and building owners. Amthal is on hand to offer support and routes to achieve its objectives, critically going right back to basics with regards to the compliance with the Bill’s provisions. This includes conducting a full regular fire risk assessment to protect and reassure residents of their safety.”
With the new clarifications imposed by the passing of the Fire Safety Bill, building owners will be held instantly accountable for not complying with the necessary fire safety guidelines by fire and rescue authorities, who will now have enforcement powers. Penalties include significant fines and even prison sentences depending on individual circumstance.
The introduction of the Fire Safety Act 2021 has been described as a stepping stone to implement further recommendations for tall building safety. Future extra measures are likely to include responsibility for lift inspections, the reviewing of evacuation plans and fire safety instructions to residents.
Phil adds: “For Building Owners, routine services should already be in place, ensuring that building assets do not deteriorate and present a fire risk. Regular and consistent fire compliance testing and evacuation planning will ensure that you have access to any safety equipment and be skilled in its deployment should the worst happen.
“Amthal also proactively encourages confidentially storing relevant information in logbooks so it’s accessible at all times by authorised personnel and support teams, again demonstrating your responsibility in implementing best practices for your building. By example, planning for emergency traffic flow through your building will help residents move safely towards emergency exits.”
Taking a risk-based approach to fire safety in your residential building will ensure that you’re already future-proofed. Ultimately, with the Fire Safety Act 2021, building owners and managers now have the clarification they need to better safeguard their residents.
Find out more about how Amthal can support you with Fire Safety.