The new Fire Safety Act 2021

Person complying with the Fire Safety Act 2021

With the tragedy of the Grenfell Tower fire nearing its 4th anniversary, the events and subsequent enquiry have exposed serious failings across the whole system of building and managing high-rise homes. The Government has taken a number of measures around fire safety, including the recent enactment of the Fire Safety Act with more on the way, including the Building Safety Bill.

Both the Act and the Bill relate to England and Wales and not Scotland or Northern Ireland who have their own regulatory regime for fire.

What changes have been made to Fire Safety?

The Act makes changes to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (RRO). This is existing fire legislation that applies to non-domestic premises, and includes common parts of domestic premises with multiple homes. The RRO designates those in control of non-domestic premises as the “responsible person” for fire safety. They have a duty to undertake fire risk assessments and manage fire risks.

The Act makes clear that “common parts” of multi-occupied domestic premises also includes:

  • the structure and external walls
  • cladding
  • balconies and balcony doors
  • windows and the entrance doors to individual flats that open into common parts

This clarity will ensure that the “responsible person” assesses and takes measures to reduce the fire safety risks relating to these parts of the premises.

Enforcement powers of the fire and rescue services will also be improved and we anticipate further regulations requiring the “responsible persons” to undertake regular inspections of fire doors and share information on wall systems with the fire and rescue service.

What does the future hold?

The Act makes provision for further regulations under the RRO. These are expected over the coming months.

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