How Will the Fire Safety Act 2021 Affect You?
The Fire Safety Act 2021 forms part of the government’s response to the Grenfell tragedy, altering previous laws to ensure that all aspects of a shared building are fully tested for fire safety. In this guide from Sentry Doors, we’ll give a summary of the essential changes brought in by this act, and guidance on how they will affect the responsible person within a building.
What is the 2021 Fire Safety Act?
The Fire Safety Act is an amendment to the Regulatory Reform Order 2005 (the Fire Safety Order), intended to clarify certain rulings and close loopholes. A renewed focus was placed on fire safety regulations following the Grenfell Fire of 2017, and this amendment forms part of the government’s response to the horrifying failures it brought to light. The Fire Safety Act was proposed as the fire safety bill in March 2020 and became law in April 2021. It can be read in full here.
A Summary of the Fire Safety Act 2021
The key change of the Fire Safety Act 2021 is to do with the areas of a shared building that should be considered within a fire risk assessment. Within all multi-occupied residential buildings the structure, external walls, and all doors connecting homes to common areas must be considered.
This covers exterior areas of a building like windows and balconies, alongside cladding and insulation. Fixings must also be checked to ensure they meet standards. This applies to every building with multiple sets of domestic premises and is not dependent on size or other factors. The Fire Safety Act 2021 applies to England and Wales, though the Welsh government will be separately confirming it due to fire safety being a devolved matter. Scotland and Northern Ireland have their own fire safety legislation.
The amendments will also allow enforcement action to be taken against responsible people who fail to comply. In addition, it specifies that all multi-occupied buildings over 11m will need quarterly fire checks on all doors in the common parts.
Through the parliament website you can find the explanatory notes for the Fire Safety Act 2021. These notes are intended to explain the purpose of a bill and give some context to the circumstances that informed its writing. If you are looking for more information about the new guidance, and potential future government amendments, the Phase 1 Report from the Grenfell Tower Inquiry could also be useful.
How Does the Fire Safety Act 2021 Affect the Responsible Person?
The responsible person within a building is in charge of all fire safety responsibilities, including making sure that it complies with legislation. These people could be building owners, landlords or housing agents. The responsible person will need to organise fire risk assessments within their property, which due to the changes of the Fire Safety Act 2021 will now need to be adjusted to consider the new aspects.
If the current fire risk assessment within a property hasn’t considered elements like external walls, cladding, and fire doors between houses and common areas, then it will be up to the responsible person to organise another assessment that covers these aspects. They will need to make all changes recommended by the assessment, to ensure that their property is suitable for living. It is up to the responsible person in a building to assure that those assessing the property are competent. Aspects like checking the combustibility of external wall materials are singled out within the Fire Safety Act 2021 as requiring a specialist.
To aid with the influx of responsible people looking to have their buildings reassessed, the government has created a Fire Risk Assessment Prioritisation Tool, which will ask a series of questions about the building in question. This is intended as part of risk-based guidance for those overseeing multiple buildings, and will provide weighted feedback on which buildings should be prioritised due to higher risks.
How Will These Regulations be Enforced?
These amendments join the Fire Safety Order and are therefore legally enforced with the possibility of unlimited fines and prison sentences for those who don’t comply. Ensuring building safety is crucial within all properties, and these amendments have been added to increase the thoroughness of assessments.
When Does the Fire Safety Act 2021 Come Into Force?
All changes will come into force on the 23rd of January 2023. Reviewing fire risk assessments and making any suggested changes before this date will allow responsible people to assure that their buildings are compliant from January.
Fully-Certified Doors For Social Housing
If you need certified fire doors for a housing project, our team works with major contractors, housing associations, and authorities across the UK, offering bespoke fire doorsets for flats and communal buildings. We prioritise safety and quality throughout our design and production process, manufacturing all doorsets from our Doncaster factory.
Our doorsets are Q-Mark certified, with our flat front doorsets boasting dual Q-Marks for Fire Door Manufacture and Enhanced Security. Each door set can be made in a range of colours and designs, to the precise size you need, and will be delivered pre-hung, ready for installation. We can offer a consistent 6-8 week lead time on our doorsets, regardless of the size of the project.
If you are looking for fully-certified fire doorsets for a housing project, speak to a member of our team today.