fire risk assessment after fire safety act

How the Fire Safety Act 2021 changes fire risk assessments

The Fire Safety Act 2021 passed into law on 29 April 2021. It was introduced in response to the Grenfell Tower fire which highlighted issues with the existing regulatory framework.

The Act is intended to improve fire safety in buildings containing more than one home by amending the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (RRFSO).

What has changed for fire risk assessments on multi-occupied residential buildings?

Under the RRFSO there was a requirement for a fire risk assessment to be carried out on the common areas of an apartment block. These did not cover the accommodation areas themselves.

Under the new Act, these fire risk assessments will now need to also cover the structure of the building, external walls and all doors between common areas and accommodation in addition to the common areas.

The Act also requires those in control of the relevant premises, known as responsible persons, to put in place fire precautions which should improve the fire safety of those buildings.

When does the new fire safety law come into force?

While the Fire Safety Act 2021 received Royal Assent on 29 April, it does not yet have legal effect as the government is currently finalising its accompanying risk-based guidance. This guidance will give recommendations for those undertaking risk assessments of external walls and cladding of multi-occupied residential buildings.

Its purpose is to help responsible persons and duty holders to assess the risk to occupants from a fire spreading externally or within the walls and how to decide whether remediation work is necessary.

When will the new risk-based guidance be issued?

This guidance has not yet been issued though is expected to be published in September 2021. Once issued, there will be a lead-in period before the further changes come into effect to allow for them to be implemented. This means the Fire Safety Act is likely to be brought into force towards the end of the year or at the beginning of 2022.

For more information on how the Fire Safety Act 2021 may affect you and your buildings and how you carry out fire risk assessments, please get in touch with our team.