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Publication of the Government Response to the Fire Safety Consultation

Statement made on 17 March 2021

Statement UIN HCWS851

Statement

My Noble Friend the Minister of State, Home Office and Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (Lord Greenhalgh) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement:

Today, the Government publishes its response to the Fire Safety Consultation held from 20 July -12 October 2020.

This public consultation was a vital step in a process to ensure that the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (the ‘Fire Safety Order’) continues to be fit for purpose as part of the Government’s consideration of the reform of the wider building safety landscape. The consultation sought views on a number of proposals to:

  • Strengthen the FSO and improve compliance in all regulated premises (section 1).
  • Implement the Grenfell Tower Inquiry Phase 1 Report recommendations that require a change in the law (section 2).
  • Improve the effectiveness of consultation between building control bodies and fire and rescue authorities on planning for building work and the arrangements for the handover of fire safety information (section 3).

We received feedback from over 250 stakeholders with an interest in building and fire safety, including residents, responsible persons and enforcing authorities, which we have used to inform our response. The Government has listened, and now we are taking action.

We will be bringing forward a number of changes to the Fire Safety Order, legislating where necessary primarily via the Building Safety Bill, as well as through building regulations fire safety guidance, to strengthen fire safety in all regulated buildings. We will:

  • Improve the quality of fire risk assessments by requiring that a Responsible Person (RP) must not appoint a person to assist them with undertaking a fire risk assessment unless they are competent and a requirement on all RPs to record their completed fire risk assessments and prescribed information. The name and/or organisation of any person engaged by the RP to undertake all or part of the fire risk assessment will also need to be recorded to assist enforcing authorities undertaking enforcement action to establish compliance.
  • Improve the identification of RPs by requiring them to record (and update as necessary) who they are, and the extent of their responsibility under the Fire Safety Order, and to include a UK based address. This will sit alongside a further proposal to require all RPs to take reasonable steps to identify themselves to each other where they share or have duties in respect of the same premises. A new requirement will also be introduced to ensure that information is transferred effectively between outgoing RPs and their replacements.
  • Amend existing provision relating to statutory guidance for RPs to include provision that failure to follow such guidance may be considered in court proceedings for breaches of the Order as evidence of such a breach, and conversely proof of following guidance may be considered as evidence of compliance.
  • Increase the level of fines from Level 3 (£1,000) 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.
  • Amend the guidance in Approved Document B of the Building Regulations to require all new buildings above 11 metres to provide a readily locatable, accessible and secure Premises Information Box, to tie in with the height threshold for new buildings to require sprinklers and signage.

The Fire Safety Consultation consulted on a range of areas to strengthen fire safety. Where further work is required to develop policy, we will continue to consider the findings of the consultation and engage with the sector and stakeholders to inform ongoing policy development in these areas.

The Fire Safety Consultation also included proposals to implement recommendations from the Grenfell Tower Inquiry Phase 1 Report requiring changes to the law. We will consider these proposals further in light of the consultation responses and – subject to the Fire Safety Bill gaining Royal Assent – intend 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 around checking fire doors and lifts.

Three of these proposals related to Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans (PEEPs). The Government’s commitment to implementing the Inquiry’s recommendations remains undimmed, 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. It is important that we get this right and ensure the voice of residents and those likely to be affected by the proposals are heard. That is why we have decided to undertake a further consultation this spring to seek additional views on the complex issue of personal emergency evacuation plans in relation to the proposals to implement the relevant Grenfell recommendations. Further details about this will be available soon on the Government’s website.

Finally, proposals to improve the engagement between Building Control Bodies and Fire Authorities in reviewing plans for building work and for the handover of fire safety information to the Responsible Person on completion will be implemented through changes to legislation and guidance.

We are determined to ensure that the public feel safe and are safe from fire in all regulated premises regardless of where they live, stay or work. These changes, alongside the Fire Safety Bill, Building Safety Bill and planned overhaul of the statutory guidance provided under the Fire Safety Order are important steps needed to strengthen the whole regulatory system for building and fire safety. Taken together they will help to ensure there is greater accountability and responsibility for fire and structural safety issues throughout the lifecycle of all buildings regulated by the Fire Safety Order.

Further detail of the changes we are making can be found in the consultation response. The consultation response will be available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/fire-safety. A copy will also be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

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This statement has also been made in the House of Lords

Home Office
Publication of the Government Response to the Fire Safety Consultation
Lord Greenhalgh
The Minister of State, Home Office and Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Conservative, Life peer
Statement made 17 March 2021
HLWS845
Lords