Fire Safety
Has anything changed in the last 5 years?

Earlier this month was the 5th anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire, so what has changed since then? 

 

For most businesses, not very much. There have been some changes and new legislation that is coming into effect early next year. 

 

So What do I need to do? 


What Hasn’t Changed:

 

Fire Risk Assessments – all businesses need to carry out a Fire Risk Assessment of their workplaces. This is the cornerstone of any Fire Safety Management Plan, and should be carried out by someone who understands Fire Safety, and you should seek the advice of a competent person. 

 

You can search on the BAFE Fire Safety Register, the Institution of Fire Engineers (IFE) Register of Fire Risk Assessors, or the Institute of Fire Safety Managers (IFSM) National Register of Fire Risk Assessors.

 

Means of Escape, and Detection and Warning Systems. 

Every workplace needs a safe escape route (ideally two), along with an appropriate detection and warning system to alert occupants of a fire situation so they can get out in time. This needs to consider anyone who may have difficulty getting out or taking notice of the warning because of a mobility or sensory impairment. 

 

Training

All staff should be given regular Fire Safety training at a level appropriate for their role. This will range from basic Fire Safety Awareness that can be part of the induction process, and refreshed using online training, to more advanced Fire Safety Management training (such as the IOSH Fire Safety for Managers Course) for those responsible for managing fire safety in larger organisations. 

 

Policies and Procedures

All the above should be captured in an appropriate Fire Safety Policy and associated Procedures. These should include details of how the systems mentioned above will be determined, maintained and tested (e.g. Fire Drills etc.). 

 

What Has Changed:

The Fire Safety Act 2021 and The Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 have brought in a number of changes that affect the communal areas of residential buildings, particularly High-Rise Residential Buildings. Though these changes do not directly affect other building types, these will have an impact in time as Fire Risk Assessors look into these areas in more detail with increased awareness and training. 

 

Change of Scope (what is covered by the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005)

The changes have detailed what should be included within Fire Risk Assessments of buildings. These should now include comments on the external parts of the building, with the materials used needing to be of a specific fire resistance standard, as well as doors that protect any escape routes (such as flat front doors in residential buildings. 

 

Assessing Fire Doors 

In Residential Buildings above 11 meters, landlords (or other Responsible Person) will now need to carry out an assessment of all communal Fire Doors every 3 months, and of every Flat front door every 12 months. This highlights the importance of fire doors in protecting escape routes, and will influence the way fire doors are assessed in Fire Risk Assessments of other building types. 

 

Providing Information, to residents and Fire Authority. 

Similarly to Staff in commercial buildings, residents need to be provided with information on what to do in the event of a fire. In addition, Fire Authorities need to be made aware of what systems are in place to help protect residents, and details of the lay out for the building etc. The latter is usually done via information kept securely on site in a Premise Information Box, which is now required on all HHRBS. 

 

Conclusion:

While some may argue that more still needs to be done, these changes are the first step in improving the Fire Safety of those who live in flats. The items listed above are just the highlights we feel will have the biggest impact. Please contact us if you are unsure of if or how these changes will affect your organisation. Our technical expertise, along with our experience as operational Fire Officers puts us in a unique position to help. 


Need more information:

The Home Office have produced a series of helpful guides. Some of these are listed below as a quick reference. 



 

Here is a link to the text of the legislation that cover this topic: 

 


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