Last edited 07 Apr 2020

Fire Safety Bill

On 19 March 2020 the Home Office introduced a bill to improve fire safety in buildings in England and Wales. The proposed Fire Safety Bill is a response to the Grenfell Tower Fire on 14 June 2017. It 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:

This will empower the fire and rescue service to take enforcement action for non compliance.

The bill will also provide a foundation for secondary legislation to take forward recommendations from the Grenfell Tower Inquiry phase one report. This stated that building owners and managers of high-rise and multi-occupied residential buildings should be responsible for:

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.

The government also published a summary of responses to the Fire Safety Order 2005 (FSO) call for evidence, which invited views on the application of the FSO and changes that might be needed. While respondents identified some areas where the FSO could be amended to provide greater clarity, most respondents agreed that the scope and objectives of the FSO remain appropriate for all regulated premises. A consultation will be held later in 2020 on proposals and next steps.

Minister for Security James Brokenshire said: “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 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.”

On 2 April 2020, in response to the Building a Safer Future consultation, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick MP announced steps to introduce mandatory sprinkler systems and consistent wayfinding signage in all new high-rise blocks of flats over 11 metres tall. The government will legislate for these reforms through the Building Safety Bill. For more information see: Government response to the Building a Safer Future consultation.

A reformed building safety regulatory system, Government response to the ‘Building a Safer Future’ consultation, published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government in April 2020 stated that: 'The Home Office’s Fire Safety Bill, introduced in Parliament on 19 March 2020, will put beyond doubt that building owners and managers of all multi-occupied residential buildings must assess the risks from external walls (including cladding and balconies) and front entrance doors under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. The Bill will also affirm that Fire and Rescue Authorities have the relevant enforcement powers to hold building owners and managers to account, supplementing the local authority enforcement route. It will also provide a firm foundation for the implementation of the relevant recommendations of the Grenfell Tower Public Inquiry Phase 1 Report requiring law changes.'

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