Guidance issued in respect of the Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022
The Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 (‘the Regulations’) are set to come into force in England on 23 January 2023. The Regulations impose duties on the ‘Responsible Person’ for any building (in England) which contains two or more domestic premises and contains common parts which residents would need to evacuate in the case of emergency.
To assist the Responsible Person in understanding their duties under the Regulations, the government has released the long-awaited guidance document summarised below.
The Regulations apply to:
- Parts of the building that are used in common by the residents of two or more domestic premises (e.g. communal corridors and stairways)
- Flat entrance doors
- The walls and floors that separate any domestic premises from other domestic premises
- Plant rooms and other non-domestic areas of the building e.g. offices, laundries, tenant halls
- External walls of the building, including doors or windows within an external wall and attachments to a wall e.g. a balcony
The Regulations do not apply within individual flats unless there are measures (smoke detectors, sprinklers, etc.) for the safety of other residents of the building.
1. Duties of the Responsible Person in all applicable premises caught by the Fire Safety Order:
(i) You must display fire safety instructions in a comprehensible form, in a conspicuous part of the building. The instructions must be provided to all new residents as soon as reasonably practicable after they have moved into their accommodation. The instructions must also be re-issued to existing residents every 12 months. The instructions must cover the following:
- The evacuation strategy for the building
- Instructions on how to report a fire
- Any other instruction that tells residents what they must do when a fire has occurred
(ii) You must also provide instructions in respect of fire doors as follows:
- Fire doors should be shut when not in use
- Residents or their guests should not alter the self-closing devices
- Residents should report faults with the fire doors immediately to the responsible person
As with the fire safety instructions, the fire door instructions should be issued to new residents as soon as reasonably practicable after they have moved into their accommodation and re-issued to existing residents every 12 months.
2. Additional duties of the Responsible Person in buildings over 11m high
In addition to the above, if you are the Responsible Person for a building which contains two or more sets of domestic premises and is over 11m high, you must carry out checks on fire doors in communal areas and flat entrance doors.
(i) All fire doors in communal areas must be checked at least every 3 months. In checking these doors, you must ensure that the doors are effectively self-closing, or in the case of cupboard and riser doors, that these are kept locked shut. Self-closing doors should fully close into their frames when the doors are opened at any angle and released. You should check that doors, frames and any glazing are undamaged and that any intumescent strips and smoke seals (where provided) are also undamaged.
(ii) At least every 12 months you must also use your best endeavours to carry out the same checks on all flat entrance fire doors, including checking that glazing has not, obviously, been replaced with glazing that might not be fire-resisting. You must keep a record of the steps taken to comply with this requirement and where access has not been granted, you must keep a record of steps taken to try to gain access.
Where inspections identify the requirement for repair or replacement of either a communal or a flat entrance fire door, this work must be undertaken as soon as reasonably practicable and by a competent contractor.
3. Additional duties of the Responsible Person in high-rise buildings (over 7 stories or 18m high)
(i) In addition to the duties highlighted in sections 1 and 2, in high-rise buildings there is a requirement to provide suitable signage to assist fire and rescue services crews with orientation in the event of a fire.
When firefighters reach the landing of any stairway, there should be signage that clearly indicates to them the floor number on which they are located and the flat numbers on that floor. When firefighters use a lift designed for their use to reach floors, the same signage should be provided and clearly visible to them when the lift doors are opened. The signage must be maintained in good condition and be visible in normal and low lighting or smoky conditions.
(ii) The Regulations require that certain information is readily available for the fire and rescue services and held in a secure information box, in a location in or on the building that is readily accessible to the rescue services.
The box must be reasonably secure from unauthorised access and vandalism, and you must provide the local fire and rescue service with the necessary details to access the box. The box must contain the following information:
- The name, address and telephone number within the United Kingdom of the responsible person
- The name and contact information of such other persons within the United Kingdom with facilities and permission to access the building on behalf of the responsible person
- A copy of the floor plans and building plan
(iii) You must prepare a record of the design of the external walls of the building including details of the materials from which they are constructed. You must provide this record to the local fire and rescue service by electronic means. This record must identify the level of risk to which the design and materials of the external walls give rise, as determined by the fire risk assessment you are required to carry out by the Fire Safety Order. You must also record any mitigating steps that have been taken in respect of that risk.
The purpose of providing this information to the fire and rescue service is to assist them with operational pre-planning and to provide information that will be of value to front line crews at the time of a fire. Accordingly, the information should be presented in a form, and be restricted to high-level detail, that is of practical value for this purpose. Typically, other than in the case of low-risk, traditional masonry construction, the information that should be provided will comprise the following:
- an overview of the design of the external wall
- brief information on the materials of construction, insulation and any cladding
- any known defects in the construction (either as originally built or currently)
- the level of risk presented by the external walls, cladding and any attachments (as determined, where necessary, by an appraisal carried out by specialists)
- any mitigating steps that have been taken in relation to the risk as identified in the fire risk assessment
(iv) Floor plans and building plan
You are required to prepare a plan for each floor of a high-rise residential building identifying the location of all lifts (including those designed for use by firefighters or evacuation) and key fire-fighting equipment in the building including rising mains, smoke controls systems and fire suppression systems. In addition, you must prepare a single-page building plan which shows the following:
- the environs of the building (e.g. the building and its immediate surroundings)
- details of the use of the building, for example for commercial or residential purposes
- access for fire and rescue appliances
- the dimensions of the building
- information on the number of storeys of the building and the number of basement levels (if any)
- information regarding the presence of maisonettes or scissor section flats
- inlets for dry rising mains
- inlets for wet rising mains
- the location of shut-off controls for any sprinkler systems
- access points for the building
- the location of the secure information box
- the location of the central controls for any smoke control system
- the location of any firefighting shaft
- the location of main stairways in the building
- the location of the controls for any evacuation alert system
Hard copies of the plans must be retained in the secure information box, and electronic copies provided to the local fire and rescue service. If the layout of the building or the fire-fighting equipment changes, then the plans must be updated as soon as reasonably practicable, and the updated copies be provided in the secure information box and to the fire and rescue service.
(v) Lifts and essential fire-fighting equipment
In addition to the servicing and maintenance requirements under the Fire Safety Order, you must undertake monthly routine checks, and keep records of these checks, on the following:
- All lifts intended for use by firefighters and evacuation lifts for use by disabled people
- Rising mains
- Smoke control systems
- Fire suppression systems
- Fire detection and fire alarm systems, including any systems linked to other fire safety equipment, such as smoke control systems
- Evacuation alert systems (a visual check of the control and indicating equipment, but not actual testing of the system)
If any of the checks reveal a fault, you must take steps to rectify the faults. If repair cannot be completed within 24 hours of detection, you must notify the fire and rescue service (and update them once rectified).
Contact our Compliance & Regulatory team today should you have any queries about these latest developments, your existing duties under fire safety law, or in circumstances where you are the subject of any enforcement action by the Fire Authority.
The content of this page is a summary of the law in force at the date of publication and is not exhaustive, nor does it contain definitive advice. Specialist legal advice should be sought in relation to any queries that may arise.
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