Fire Safety Act 2021: Guidance on the Roles and Duties of Those Responsible for Fire Safety in Build
The Welsh Government has produced this guidance to assist those affected by the Fire Safety Act 2021, and to also assist people in finding out whether they are someone affected and were maybe unaware. It applies to premises in Wales.
The Fire Safety Act 2021 clarifies the parts of a premises that are covered by the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (or “the Fire Safety Order” or “FSO”).
The Fire Safety Order applies to all non-domestic premises in England and Wales. These include buildings with two or more domestic premises such as blocks of flats, although individual flats themselves are excluded.
Responsibility for complying with the Fire Safety Order largely falls on the ‘Responsible Person’ as described in the Order. This may, for example, be an employer, the freeholder, management company or managing agent depending on local arrangements. If you are unsure if you are a Responsible Person for a building this guidance has a section which may help you. It has information on what it means to be a Responsible Person, and about what some of their responsibilities are under the Fire Safety Order.
The Fire Safety Order was originally designed to apply to workplaces, and this meant that how it applied to residential buildings was not entirely clear. As a minimum, it applied (and still does) to the “common parts”, areas for the use of all residents like hallways, staircases and landings. The new legislation clarifies that where a building contains two or more sets of domestic premises, the areas to which the Fire Safety Order applies include:
The building’s structure and external walls (including doors, windows and anything attached to the exterior of those walls, such as balconies, cladding, insulation and fixings) and any common parts.
All doors between domestic premises and common parts such as flat entrance doors.
These areas should therefore be considered as part of the fire risk assessment carried out by a Responsible Person for a building. Please note that if you currently contract out this work, you must make sure that those engaged to complete the fire risk assessment include those elements detailed above, as you are responsible for complying with the Fire Safety Order.
A Responsible Person’s responsibilities also include, amongst other matters, the removal or reduction of fire hazards in the building for which they are responsible, and implementing reasonable measures to ensure the safety of all residents, those employed to work in the building and visitors to the building.
Fire and rescue authorities can issue enforcement notices if they decide that Responsible Persons or Duty Holders (who also have some responsibilities under the FSO) have failed to comply with any provisions of the Fire Safety Order. They can also serve alteration or prohibition notices. The Fire Safety Order creates a number of offences, for example it is an offence for a Responsible Person or other Duty Holder to fail to comply with specific requirements imposed by the Fire Safety Order which puts people at risk of death or serious injury from fire.
This guide has been issued under article 50 of the Fire Safety Order. It aims to help Responsible Persons and Duty Holders understand and discharge their duties, but it is not the law. Nonetheless, complying with it (or not complying with it) could be admissible as evidence in any legal proceedings relating to breaches of the Order.
The document is available here.
Welsh Government September 2021