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Fire safety responsibilities under Section 156 of the Building Safety Act 2022

Fire Safety Responsibilities - Section 156 of the Building Safety Act 2022

This guidance provides an explanation of the obligations that responsible individuals must fulfil due to changes introduced in the Building Safety Act 2022, which amend the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (referred to as the Fire Safety Order).

Which buildings are subject to the new fire safety requirements?

These requirements apply to all non-residential premises, including workplaces where people work, visit, or stay, and the non-residential areas of multi-occupied residential buildings (such as communal corridors, stairways, and plant rooms). These requirements do not apply to individual residential premises.

The local fire and rescue authorities are the primary authority responsible for enforcing the Fire Safety Order, including these additional requirements. In the non-residential parts of multi-occupied residential buildings (such as communal corridors and stairways), enforcement is carried out by the Local Authority under the Housing Act 2004.

The Health and Safety Executive is the enforcing body for unoccupied buildings on construction sites, the Defence Fire Safety Regulator for sites occupied by the armed forces, and the Crown Premises Fire Safety Inspectorate for buildings occupied or owned by the government.

Background to Section 156 of the Building Safety Act 2022

The Building Safety Bill received Royal Assent in April 2022 and was enacted as the Building Safety Act 2022. This new legislation brings about amendments to the Fire Safety Order, introducing the following requirements for Responsible Persons:

  • Recordkeeping: Responsible Persons must now document their completed fire risk assessment, whereas only specific information was required previously.

  • Identification: Responsible Persons must record the identity of the individual or organisation engaged to undertake or review any part of the fire risk assessment.

  • Fire safety arrangements: Responsible Persons must record and demonstrate how fire safety is managed within their premises.

  • Contact information: Responsible Persons must record and update their contact information, including a UK address, and share it with other Responsible Persons and relevant residents of multi-occupied residential premises.

  • Identifying other Responsible Persons: Responsible Persons must make reasonable efforts to identify other Responsible Persons who share or have duties regarding the same premises and Accountable Persons (a new legal entity established under the Building Safety Act) and subsequently introduce themselves to these individuals.

  • Handover of information: Departing Responsible Persons must share all relevant fire safety information with incoming Responsible Persons.

  • Clear communication with residents: Responsible Persons of buildings with multiple sets of domestic premises must provide residents with fire safety information in an easily understandable format.

  • Increased fines: Certain offences now carry higher fines.

  • Strengthening statutory guidance: Statutory guidance issued under Article 50 of the Fire Safety Order is given greater legal weight.

Additionally, it is a legislative requirement that the Responsible Person appoints a competent person to conduct or review the fire risk assessment. This requirement's enforcement will be initiated later, and relevant guidance will be provided beforehand. In the meantime, it is recommended that if a fire risk assessor is appointed, they should possess adequate training, experience, knowledge, and other qualifications. The Responsible Person is still responsible for ensuring that a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment is carried out.

Fire safety responsibilities for all Responsible Persons

If you are the Responsible Person for any building regulated by the Fire Safety Order, the following duties apply to you:

Recording your fire risk assessment and related information:

You are now required to document the fire risk assessment, including all findings and the fire safety arrangements for your premises, regardless of the circumstances.

It is advisable to provide comprehensive information regarding fire safety on your premises. This new requirement replaces the previous obligation only to record significant findings from the risk assessment. It also eliminates previous limitations on when you needed to record both the risk assessment and fire safety arrangements, such as having five or more employees or being subject to licensing or an alterations notice.

If you enlist the services of a fire risk assessor to aid you in completing the assessment, you must record their name and, if applicable, the name of their organisation. This ensures clear documentation for enforcement authorities, indicating who conducted the assessment. It also enables you to share this information with residents (where applicable) and any future Responsible Person.

It remains your responsibility to ensure that your fire risk assessment is appropriate and sufficient. If you choose to engage someone to assist you, we recommend verifying their competence in performing this task.

Cooperation and Coordination among Responsible Persons

To ensure a unified approach to fire safety within the entire building, it is crucial for you to collaborate with other Responsible Persons on the premises. Therefore, you must take practical steps to identify if any other Responsible Persons share or have duties related to the premises.

For instance, in multi-occupancy commercial buildings, other Responsible Persons would include fellow businesses and the landlord (and possibly a managing agent), who holds overall responsibility for the building's safety.

Once you have determined the presence of other Responsible Persons, it is necessary to exchange information. This includes sharing your names (or the names of representatives acting on your behalf) and a UK-based address where you can receive notices or documents.

It is also essential to communicate the extent of your responsibilities under the Fire Safety Order and keep a record of this information. Understanding the scope of your control over the premises, which may be defined in a contract, is essential. We recommend contacting the building owner or manager for clarification if you are still determining.

Written communication is recommended when providing this information, and it is advised to maintain accessible records as evidence of information sharing. You must keep a record of the details provided about your duties concerning the premises.

It is vital that your fire risk assessment and any subsequent fire safety measures align with and complement the risk assessments and safety measures implemented throughout the entire building. This ensures a comprehensive approach to fire safety.

It is advisable to inform other Responsible Persons whenever there is a change in personnel responsible for your part of the premises. This allows them to provide the incoming Responsible Person with the information mentioned above.

Cooperation with Responsible Persons

If you are a Responsible Person in a higher-risk residential building, as defined by the Building Safety Act (with a minimum height of 18 meters or at least 7 stor