How do the new regulations from the Grenfell Tower Inquiry affect me?
Why have new regulations come into force?
The Grenfell Tower Inquiry was established to investigate the fire at the Grenfell Tower building in London on June 14, 2017, which resulted in the tragic loss of 72 lives.
There have been some new regulations and recommendations that have emerged from the Inquiry, which may affect you as a resident or responsible person of a residential building. These important regulatory changes aim to improve building safety and prevent future tragedies like the one that occurred at Grenfell Tower.
In this blog we will outline the details of these new regulations and explain how we can support you by ensuring you are following the guidance correctly.
Who needs to be aware of these regulations?
In high-rise blocks of flats and multi-occupied residential buildings which are high-rise buildings*, responsible persons will be required to adhere to new regulations outlined in the Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022.
Residents in multi-occupied residential buildings should also be aware of these new regulations, as there is certain information the responsible person must provide you with.
Definition of a responsible person
In terms of fire safety, the responsible person is often the person who has control over the premises. This person has a legal obligation to ensure that adequate fire safety measures are in place, including conducting risk assessments and ensuring that fire alarms and other safety equipment are maintained and in working order.
In terms of building maintenance and management, the responsible person may be the property owner or manager. This person is responsible for ensuring that the building is well-maintained, that repairs are carried out promptly, and that health and safety regulations are followed.
Overall, the responsible person in a building is typically the individual or organisation that has the legal or practical authority to ensure that the building is safe, secure, and well-maintained.
*As defined in The Fire Safety (England) Regulations as a building at least 18 metres in height or at least seven storeys.
How did the Government introduce these regulations?
The Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 were laid under article 24 of the Fire Safety Order 2005. Regulations made under article 24 can impose requirements on responsible persons or others, including building owners and building managers, in relation to mitigating the risk to residents for specific premises.
The Fire Safety Order applies to all premises including workplaces and the common parts of all multi-occupied residential buildings. It already required responsible persons where necessary to take certain steps to ensure the safety of residents.
Where are these regulations applicable?
The Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 apply in England only.
When did these regulations come into force?
The regulations came into force on 23rd January 2023.
What are the details of the regulations?
In high-rise residential buildings, responsible persons are required to:
- Building plans: provide their local Fire and Rescue Service with up-to-date electronic building floor plans and to place a hard copy of these plans, alongside a single page building plan which identifies key firefighting equipment, in a secure information box on site.
- External wall systems: provide to their local Fire and Rescue Service information about the design and materials of a high-rise building’s external wall system and to inform the Fire and Rescue Service of any material changes to these walls. Also, they will be required to provide information in relation to the level of risk that the design and materials of the external wall structure gives rise to and any mitigating steps taken.
- Lifts and other key firefighting equipment: undertake monthly checks on the operation of lifts intended for use by firefighters, and evacuation lifts in their building and check the functionality of other key pieces of firefighting equipment. They will also be required to report any defective lifts or equipment to their local Fire and Rescue Service as soon as possible after detection if the fault cannot be fixed within 24 hours, and to record the outcome of checks and make them available to residents.
- Information boxes: install and maintain a secure information box in their building. This box must contain the name and contact details of the Responsible Person and hard copies of the building floor plans.
- Wayfinding signage: to install signage visible in low light or smoky conditions that identifies flat and floor numbers in the stairwells of relevant buildings.
In residential buildings with storeys over 11 metres in height, responsible persons are required to:
- Fire doors: undertake annual checks of flat entrance doors and quarterly checks of all fire doors in the common parts.
In all multi-occupied residential buildings with 2 or more sets of domestic premises*, responsible persons are required to:
- Fire safety instructions: provide relevant fire safety instructions to their residents, which will include instructions on how to report a fire and any other instruction which sets out what a resident must do once a fire has occurred, based on the evacuation strategy for the building.
- Fire door information: provide residents with information relating to the importance of fire doors in fire safety.
Full guidance on your responsibilities under these new regulations can be found here:
*The regulations are not intended to capture maisonettes, where two flats exist within a converted house and there are no “common parts” through which an individual would evacuate in the event of a fire.
Other changes in regulations
One of the key recommendations from the Inquiry is to ban the use of combustible materials in the external walls of high-rise buildings over 18 metres in height. This ban came into effect on December 21, 2018, and applies to all new buildings as well as existing ones that are being re-clad.
The Inquiry has also called for improved guidance for firefighters on how to tackle fires in high-rise buildings, as well as the development of new evacuation procedures for residents.
How can MAGG Group help?
- If you are taking ownership of the management of a building, there are a lot of compliance boxes that need to be ticked. We can ensure you are applying the Golden Thread approach to your documentation, using our online portal system, which is completely accessible throughout a project from start to finish.
Ask us about our Construction Compliance Package to find out more about how we can help at the planning and ownership transfer stages of your premises.
- MAGG Group have Consultants available to deliver training sessions, which go into depth on the new legislation. We will endeavour to find out more about your queries and concerns during our initial contact with you, so that we can tailor the training specifically to you and your premises.
- Our engineers can carry out thorough inspections and produce reports on your fire doors and fire stopping materials, as well as install any fire doors and fire separation systems required to ensure full compliance with building regulations and BS 9999/9991.
- Our Fire Risk Assessors have extensive experience in identifying fire hazards, assessing the risk and establishing appropriate measures to remove or reduce the risk. We can produce detailed reports with clear and concise recommendations, all of which are completed in line with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and PAS:79.