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The rules around fire safety are changing

After the harrowing scenes beamed around the world after the Grenfell Tower Fire, the government is introducing changes to fire safety in UK homes and commercial buildings. Are you up to date?

72 people died during the tragedy which occurred on the 14 June 2017, engulfing a 24-storey high-rise apartment block in North Kensington, West London, making it the UK’s most serious loss of life in a single fire since the Second World War. A public enquiry was launched after the awful event, to investigate the reasons behind the fire and the failings that resulted in the high number of deaths. The findings of the Independent Grenfell Tower Enquiry were published in 2019, with the changes coming into force (in England only) on 23rd January 2023 as part of the Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022.

In This Post

Red fire warden box for concepts such as emergency, fire, help, and assistance.

What are the new regulations?

The new Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 outline that responsible persons of high-rise residential buildings are now required to provide information about the building to local fire and rescue services. At present, the law only relates to buildings defined as ‘containing two or more domestic premises’ which are at least 18 metres tall or seven storeys: think purpose-built blocks of flats and high-rise residential towers. Multi-occupancy converted homes are also included if they are more than 11 metres tall. While it’s currently only these two types of buildings which are legally obliged to adhere to the new laws, it’s recommended that all residential or commercial multi-occupancy buildings provide details to fire and rescue.

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What information should be given to Fire and Rescue Services?

Briefly, it should be anything that would help fire and rescue plan a firefighting response, including an evacuation of residents. This could be building plans and floor plans, information about external wall systems, the location of Premises Information Boxes, lifts and firefighting equipment, and wayfinding signage. The responsibility of providing this information to the authorities is given to the ‘responsible person’ in charge of the building, for example the warden or landlord, who is also required to give residents details of fire safety instructions, like where to gather in the event of an evacuation and the importance of leaving fire doors shut.

All existing buildings are required to comply, but new buildings which are finished after the date (23 Jan 23) passes may have different requirements – it’s best to check to make sure you’re on the right side of the law.

Do I need a Premises Information Box?

In some cases, YES – these are now a legal requirement for high-rises buildings. The boxes – usually a bright and eye-catching colour like red, are becoming a more frequent sight in and outside of buildings. You can see them often on skyscrapers in the city, but now apartment blocks and any buildings over a certain height need them too. The box is required to be well maintained by the ‘responsible person’, who must make regular check and ensure it contains all the important details noted above, plus their contact detail and the relationship to the building. At a bare minimum, floor plans, the fire safety manual and an evacuation strategy should be included, as well as a description of the building and the materials used in construction, plus a list of occupants.

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Are there any other changes?

Buildings over 11 metres tall which are classed as multi-occupancy residential homes also necessitate annual checks by the responsible person of flat entry doors, and frequent (usually quarterly) checks of all fire doors in communal spaces. All residents should also received fire safety instructions like how to report a fire, how to evacuate safely and guidance on the importance of fire doors.

DJD can provide building plans for Premises Information Boxes and display around residential buildings, which display firefighting equipment, water supplies, evacuation routes, important signage and fire assembly points – these are an essential part of the new regulations. For more information, contact us in the usual way.

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