17th March saw the Home Office publish new measures aiming to ensure people are safe in their homes. Following the Fire Safety Consultation last year, there will be new rules in the Fire Safety Order, which is expected to come into force within the legislation framework of the Building Safety Bill. The government say the consultation used “feedback from over 250 stakeholders with an interest in building and fire safety, including residents, Responsible Persons and enforcing authorities” and from this they have created their response. The Building Safety Bill –”will create the first national Building Safety Regulator and overhaul the way buildings in scope of the new regime are designed, built and managed when occupied”.
Under the new measures, limitless fines can be handed out to anyone who is caught obstructing or impersonating a fire inspector, as well as anyone who breaches fire safety regulations. Fire Minister Lord Greenhalgh said: “Everyone should be safe in the buildings where they live, stay or work. Our new measures will improve fire safety and help save lives, but will also take firm action against those who fail in their duty to keep people safe”.
There will be requirements for fire risk assessments to be created for every building, and measures to ensure fire safety information is managed over the lifetime of a building. Stricter rules regarding the quality of fire risk assessments, as well as the completion of them by suitably qualified personnel, also feature prominently.
New flats which are built over 11m high, will require “premises information boxes” which will need to contain information including: plans of the building; the fire safety manual; description of the building; information on occupants; details of key personnel; evacuation strategy; construction & layout and details of fire safety systems. This emergency information pack will be kept at the premises in a prominent location (for instance adjacent to main entrance or adjacent to main fire alarm panel) so that any firefighting crews have access to it when required. The London Fire Brigade suggest this is kept securely in a Gerda premises information box locked with a Gerda key, which is carried on all pumping appliances.
The government also stated that it “intends to launch a further consultation on personal emergency evacuation plans this spring, to seek additional views on implementing the relevant Grenfell Tower Inquiry recommendations”.