Last reviewed 19 March 2021

In July 2020 the Home Office launched a consultation on improving fire safety compliance (see Consultation on plans to strengthen the Fire Safety Order).

It sought views on proposals to strengthen the Fire Safety Order (FSO), to implement Grenfell Tower Inquiry recommendations and to strengthen the regulatory framework for how building control bodies consult with Fire and Rescue Authorities (FRAs).

A summary of the 256 responses received to the 139 questions posed in the consultation document has now been published and can be found at GOV.UK.

“The Government’s commitment to implementing the Grenfell Tower Inquiry’s recommendations remains undimmed,” the Home Office states, “as does our commitment to ensure those most affected by the tragic events at Grenfell Tower — the bereaved and survivors — continue to have a voice in their implementation.”

In this context, it will undertake a further consultation this spring to seek additional views in relation to the proposals to implement the relevant Grenfell recommendations relating to personal emergency evacuation plans.

Changes to the FSO

Through the Building Safety Bill, the Government intends to amend the FSO. It will strengthen the provision relating to statutory guidance and require that, where the responsible person (RP) appoints a person to make or review the fire risk assessment that they must be competent.

In addition, it will require that all RPs must record their completed fire risk assessment and must record (and as necessary update) their contact information, including with a UK-based address.

Furthermore, all RPs must take reasonable steps to identify themselves to all other RPs (and where applicable Accountable Persons under the Bill) where they share or have duties in respect of the same premises.

For all regulated premises in England and Wales, RPs must record the name of the individual, and organisation of persons engaged by them to undertake any or all of the fire risk assessment. Departing RPs must first take reasonable steps to share all relevant fire safety information with incoming RPs.

Finally, the level of fines will be increased from Level 3 (£1000) to Level 5 (unlimited) for offences in relation to the impersonation of an inspector, failure to comply with specific requirements imposed by an inspector, and failure to comply with requirements relating to the installation of luminous tube signs.

The Draft Building Safety Bill can be found at GOV.UK.

Grenfell Tower Inquiry Phase 1 recommendation

These recommendations are detailed and, in some cases, build on existing provisions within the FSO.

The Government intends — subject to the Fire Safety Bill gaining Royal Assent — to lay regulations before the second anniversary of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry Phase One Report which will deliver on the Inquiry’s recommendations.

These will include measures relating to checking fire doors and lifts.

Building control bodies consultation with FRAs

The Home Office plans to revoke Article 45 of the FSO to enable consultation requirements to be consolidated in building regulations.

This will, it explains, bring legislation together in one place, making the legislative framework clearer and more adaptable to accommodate any future changes. It also proposes to make provision for mandating Plans Certificates for FSO properties as supported in the consultation.

Further changes will require implementation either through secondary legislation or guidance and the Government will continue to work with stakeholders on matters including supporting the sector review of procedural guidance to improve the way information can be provided regarding building works.