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Fire Safety Legislation - what has changed for responsible persons?

Updated: Jul 1

LESH Fire Risk Assessment Nottingham

We are approaching a year since the legal landscape of fire legislation significantly changed. The changes described below have impacted a lot of small businesses and landlords. So, what has changed and what do you need to do as a responsible person of a building?

New Guidance to Improve Fire Safety in Buildings

Businesses must be fully aware of the significant revisions to fire safety legislation – section 156 of the Building Safety Act 2022 which came into force on 1st October 2023.

Many premises are affected by the changes including small shops, take-aways, holiday lets and small blocks of flats which did not fall under some of these requirements previously:

The main changes businesses need to be aware of are:

  • All businesses will need to record a fire risk assessment and fire safety arrangements in full – regardless of the number of employees, and size or type of business.

  • There are increased requirements for cooperation and coordination between Responsible Persons in multi occupied buildings or those where the occupier and owner are not the same person.

  • In residential buildings with two or more domestic premises residents must be provided with information on the risks from fire and the fire safety measures provided to keep them safe

Section 156 of the Building Safety Act 2022

Section 156 of the Building Safety Act 2022 (BSA) makes a number of amendments to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (FSO) to improve fire safety in all buildings regulated by it. These improvements form Phase 3 of the Home Office’s fire safety reform programme, building on Phase 1 (the Fire Safety Act 2021) and Phase 2 (the Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022). This new fire safety legislation came into force on 1st October 2023.

Phase 3 further strengthens fire safety in all FSO regulated premises by:

  • improving cooperation and coordination between Responsible Persons (RPs).

  • increasing requirements in relation to the recording and sharing of fire safety information thus creating a continual record throughout a building’s lifespan.

  • making it easier for enforcement authorities to act against non-compliance.

  • ensuring residents have access to comprehensive information about fire safety in their building.

Legal Responsibilities for the Responsible Persons (RP)

The Building Safety Bill received Royal Assent in April 2022 and became the Building Safety Act 2022. The new legislation has the effect of amending the Fire Safety Order to:

  • require that all RPs must record their completed fire risk assessment, and in full (where previously only specific information was required to be recorded)

  • require that all RPs must record the identity of the individual (their name), and/or if applicable, their organisation (name) engaged by them to undertake/review any or all of the fire risk assessment

  • require that all RPs must record their fire safety arrangements (demonstrate how fire safety is managed in your premises)

  • require that all RPs must record (and as necessary update) their contact information, including a UK based address, and share this with other RPs and residents of multi-occupied residential premises where applicable

  • require that all RPs must take reasonably practicable steps to ascertain the existence of other Responsible Persons who share or have duties in respect of the same premises, and of Accountable Persons (which are a new legal entity made under the Building Safety Act in the case of higher-risk residential buildings) in relation to the premises – they must then identify themselves to said persons

  • require that departing RPs must share all ‘relevant fire safety information’ with incoming Responsible Persons

  • require RPs of a building containing two or more sets of domestic premises to provide residents with relevant fire safety information in a format that is easily understood by the residents

  • increase the level of fines for some offences

  • strengthen the status of statutory guidance issued under Article 50 of the Fire Safety Order

There is also a legislative requirement that, where the Responsible Person appoints a person to make or review the fire risk assessment, they must be competent. This legislative requirement will be brought into force at a later date, and we will provide relevant guidance in that regard ahead of the commencement date. In the meantime, if you do appoint a fire risk assessor our recommendation is that you ensure they are competent to do so, in terms of having sufficient training and experience or knowledge and other qualities. It remains the case that the Responsible Person has a duty to make sure that a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment is completed.

Get in touch for a chat if you need any support on fire risk assessments.

01623 239705

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