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New Fire Safety Bill Planned

New Fire Safety Bill Planned
25 March 2020 | Updated 24 March 2020
 

The Home Office has introduced a new bill to improve fire safety in buildings in England and Wales.

The intention of the bill is to, according to the official government press release, “empower fire and rescue services to take enforcement action and hold building owners to account if they are not compliant.”

The Home Office said that the proposed Fire Safety Bill “will build on action already taken to ensure that people feel safe in their homes, and a tragedy like the Grenfell Tower fire never happens again”.

The bill will amend the Fire Safety Order 2005 to clarify that the responsible person or duty-holder for multi-occupied, residential buildings must manage and reduce the risk of fire for:

 

  • The structure and external walls of the building, including cladding, balconies and windows
  • Entrance doors to individual flats that open into common parts

 

“I am pleased to see the announcement of the new Fire Safety Bill. We have been calling for additional powers since 2017 and these changes should contribute to the public feeling safer in their homes.”

–Roy Wilsher

Chair, National Fire Chiefs Council

 

 

Additional safety powers

 

Minister for Security James Brokenshire commented:

“We remain committed to implementing the recommendations made following phase one of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry, and the government has already made major reforms to building safety.

"Today’s bill [19 March] will help bring about meaningful change to improving building safety.”

Chair of the National Fire Chiefs Council Roy Wilsher said:

“I am pleased to see the announcement of the new Fire Safety Bill. We have been calling for additional powers since 2017 and these changes should contribute to the public feeling safer in their homes.

“We look forward to seeing additional supportive measures to assist fire and rescue services, identify different types of cladding and take appropriate measures.”

 

What does this mean for fire safety managers?

 

The bill will provide a foundation for secondary legislation to take forward recommendations from the Grenfell Tower Inquiry phase one report.

This report stated that building owners and managers of high-rise and multi-occupied residential buildings should be responsible for a number of areas including:

 

  • Regular inspections of lifts and the reporting of results to the local fire and rescue services
  • Ensuring evacuation plans are reviewed and regularly updated and personal evacuation plans are in place for residents whose ability to evacuate may be compromised
  • Ensuring fire safety instructions are provided to residents in a form that they can reasonably be expected to understand
  • Ensuring individual flat entrance doors, where the external walls of the building have unsafe cladding, comply with current standards

 

The bill will also give the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government the powers to amend the list of qualifying premises that fall within the scope of the Fire Safety Order by way of secondary legislation, enabling the government to respond quickly to developments in the design and construction of buildings.

 

What is secondary legislation?

 

Primary legislation is a term used to describe the main laws passed by the legislative bodies of the UK e.g. Acts of the UK Parliament, Scottish Parliament, National Assembly for Wales and Northern Ireland Assembly. 

According to legislation.gov.uk, secondary legislation (subordinate legislation) is delegated legislation made by a person or body under authority contained in primary legislation. Typically, powers to make secondary legislation may be conferred on ministers, on the Crown, or on public bodies. For example, the Office of Communications (OFCOM) is given such powers by the Communications Act 2003.

 

Additional building and fire safety across the board

 

Alongside today’s bill, a number of actions are being taken across government to improve building and fire safety including:

 

  • The announcement by the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government on 20 January 2020 of a new Building Safety Regulator
  • Introduction of the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s Building Safety Bill, which will provide clearer accountability and stronger duties on those responsible for high rise buildings
  • £1 billion of grant funding to tackle unsafe cladding systems on high-rise residential buildings over 18 metres in both the private and social sectors
  • A new Building Safety Bill to bring about further changes to building safety
  • The relaunch of the government’s Fire Kills campaign

 

Picture: The Home Office has introduced a new bill to improve fire safety in buildings in England and Wales.

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 25 March 2020

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