As of January 2023, there are new fire safety regulations in the UK. The changes are the result of the Grenfell Tower fire, and the enquiries that followed. The resulting recommendations are now written into law, not adapting to them will result in legal action.
This blog will explain these new laws, how they will affect landlords and business owners, and what changes must be made to comply with the regulations.
What are the New Fire Safety Regulations?
The ‘Responsible Person(s)’ of mid and high-raise flats are now required to provide more information for Fire and Rescue Services. By having this extra information, the emergency services can plan and provide an effective operational response.
The new regulations focus on multiple factors that can affect fire safety:
New Fire Door Regulations
One of the largest factors that made the Grenfell Tower incident disastrous was the state of its fire doors. They hadn’t been inspected properly for a long time and were in a state of disrepair, meaning they didn’t work as intended when evacuations were attempted.
Fire doors aren’t just alternative exits to a building. Their design prevents smoke and toxic fumes from spreading and are placed strategically to create safe escape routes.
In residential buildings with storeys over 11m in height, responsible persons will be required to carry out the following checks on their fire doors:
Quarterly Checks on doors within communal areas (including lobbies, stairways, corridors, and common rooms).
Annual Checks on flat entry doors with best endeavours.
Education of Residents
The new regulations have a major focus on education. The Responsible Person is only required to inspect the shared areas, not the premises when they are occupied. To compensate for this, landlords must demonstrate proper safety procedure to their residents, including showing how to operate the fire doors and what to do in an emergency.
In the event of fire, it is important that everyone evacuates safely. The leading cause of panic in those situations is not the immediate danger, but the lack of knowledge on what to do. By demonstrating the correct safety procedure, residents and employees of a building will be able to act calmly and leave the building in an organised manner.
The regulations state that the responsible person must stress the importance of Fire Doors, explaining in simple terms how they work and that they save lives. It may be obvious to some, but many people will be living in a shared building for the first time, or may even be from a foreign country, so this education is essential for their future safety.
Information for Fire and Rescue Services
The Responsible person in multi-occupied residential buildings (with two or more sets of domestic premises) must provide the following information about the building to their local Fire and Rescue Service:
Up-to-date electronic floor plans must be provided physical copies made available. This applies for any building over 18m in height.
They must also keep a single page building plan which identifies key firefighting equipment, in a secure information box on site. This box must be installed as soon as possible and contain the name and contact details of the Responsible Person along with the floor plans. Get in touch with KJ Fire Safety for advice and help with installing information boxes.
In the event of a fire, the faster the Fire and Rescue Service can act, the more lives they can save. Having this information readily available will help them act sooner and more efficiently.
To assist with the creation of new floor plans, the following information can be provided:
- Existing building plans, to show layout and locations of load bearing walls/compartmentation.
- Existing DWG Files to aid CAD drawing.
- Zone plans (If applicable)
- List of active fire safety systems/equipment in place
- Contact details for responsible person(s)
External Wall Systems
Responsible Person(s) must provide information about the design and materials used in a building’s external wall system. Any material changes must also be reported to the local Fire and Rescue Services, and further information in relation to the level of risk that the design and materials of the external wall structure might have, and what has been done to reduce this risk.
Lifts and Key Fire-Fighting Equipment
The Responsible Person of buildings over 18m must undertake monthly checks on the operation of lifts intended for use by firefighters and any evacuation lifts within the building. This ensures that everything will work correctly in the event of an emergency. If these checks aren’t made often enough it will put lives at risk. Monthly checks are vital to ensure the effectiveness of this equipment.
They will also be required to report any defective lifts or equipment to their local Fire and Rescue Service as soon as possible after detection if the fault cannot be fixed within 24 hours, and to record the outcome of checks and make them available to all residents/occupants.
Signage that is visible in low light and smoky conditions must be installed in mid and high-rise buildings (over 18m). These should indicate flat and floor numbers in the stairwells of the building(s) to make it easier for the Fire and Rescue Service to navigate the building. Alongside the floor plans, this will equip them with the necessary information to assist with evacuation and put out the fire.
More Information about Fire Safety Regulations
At KJ Fire Safety, our job is to help landlords and business owners make their premises as safe as possible. We provide information and advice that guides you through the process, and even provide comprehensive training courses to teach you and your team about everything fire safety.
If you need to make changes to conform to the new Fire Safety Regulations, get in touch with us to get started. We are experts in Fire Risk Assessments, inspections, and security, and we look forward to hearing from you.