New regulations for fire safety: it's time to update

High rise buildings in london_stock

We all remember the terrible scenes from the Grenfell Tower Fire. On 14 June 2017, 72 people died in a tragic fire that consumed the 24-storey high-rise residential building in North Kensington, West London. It was the UK’s most serious loss of life in a single fire since World War II. Three months later, a public inquiry into the fire was opened to investigate the causes and other related issues, and in 2019 the Independent Grenfell Tower Inquiry published the findings of Phase One, including many recommendations to prevent a tragedy like Grenfell ever happening again. These recommendations have been taken onboard by the government and new rules have been published as part of the Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022.

Fire warden box no text

What are the new Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022?

The new Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 make it a requirement for responsible persons of high-rise residential buildings to provide information about the building to the local fire and rescue service. Currently the law is only relevant for buildings defined as containing two or more ‘domestic premises’ and at least 18 metres tall, or seven storeys – these would be described as large blocks of flats. Multi-occupancy residential buildings, like converted homes, which are over 11 metres tall, would also need to provide additional safety measures. Aside from this, it’s a recommendation that any multi-occupancy building, whether residential or commercial, provide the information to Fire and Rescue services, even though not enshrined in law (yet).

What information needs to be provided?

In short, anything that could assist Fire and Rescue services to plan, and if needed, execute an effective operational response to a fire or incident. The ‘responsible person’, for example, a building owner, or warden in control of the premises, is required to provide the information to local authorities, as well as provide residents with fire safety instructions and information on the importance of fire doors – such as leaving them closed so they can do their job properly.

The regulations apply to all existing buildings, but new buildings completed after the date may have different requirements. Some buildings may already have much of these regulations in place already, so it’s a question of ensuring everything is up to date. However, some of it may be a new requirement under the new legislation:

  • Building plans
  • External wall systems
  • Lifts and other firefighting equipment
  • Premises Information Boxes
  • Wayfinding signage

 

What is a premises information box?

These are becoming a more frequent sight inside (and sometimes outside) of commercial and residential buildings, however under the new regulations they are now legally required for high-rise buildings. The secure Premises Information Box is brightly coloured (usually red) so it can be easily seen by firefighters. The box must be well maintained and contain a number of important documents to assist Fire and Rescue teams when arriving to an incident. First and foremost, it should contain up-to-date information on the ‘responsible person’ and their contact details. There should be hard copies of the building floor plans, the fire safety manual and evacuation strategy, a description of the building, its layout and its occupants, as well as any important information about its construction and fire safety systems.

The rules differ for multi-occupied residential buildings over 11 metres in height; in this case, the responsible person is also required to undertake annual checks of flat entry doors, and quarterly checks of all fire doors in communal areas. Fire safety instructions relevant to the building must be provided to all residents, for example on how to report a fire and evacuate the building safely. They should also receive guidance on the importance of fire doors.

When do these changes come into law?

The regulations come into force on 23 January 2023 and apply to buildings in England only.

 

Fireplan

Fourwalls can provide building plans for Premises Information Boxes and to display around the buildings, showing firefighting equipment, water supplies, evacuation routes, signage and fire assembly points. These are an essential part of the new regulations. For more information, get in touch

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