The continuing Government response to the Grenfell Fire disaster
So, what is the Government Response after Grenfell Disaster. In March 2020, the Home Office introduced a new bill to improve fire safety in buildings in England and Wales. The proposed Fire Safety Bill will amend the Fire Safety Order 2005 to clarify that the responsible person or duty-holder for multi-occupied, residential buildings must manage and reduce the risk of fire for:
- the structure and external walls of the building, including cladding, balconies and windows
- entrance doors to individual flats that open into common parts.
According to the government, this clarification aims to empower fire and rescue services to take enforcement action and hold building owners to account if they are not compliant.
Following the Grenfell Fire in 2017 the Government have taken a number of steps around fire safety (and this Bill forms part of that response). It is part of a series of changes by the Government to both fire safety and building safety more generally, with further primary and secondary legislation to follow. The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 consolidated a number of different pieces of fire legislation. It applies to all non-domestic premises, including communal areas of residential buildings with multiple homes. The Order designates those in control of premises as the responsible person for fire safety. They have a duty to undertake assessments and manage risks.
The Bill clarifies that:
- for any building containing two or more sets of domestic premises the Order applies to the building’s structure and external walls and any common parts, including the front doors of residential parts Legislation and Guidance Update – October 2020
- external walls in the order include “doors or windows in those walls” and “anything attached to the exterior of those walls (including balconies).” These amendments are expected to provide for increased enforcement action in these areas, particularly where remediation of aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding is not taking place
Where does the Bill apply to?
This Bill applies to England and Wales. Separate fire safety legislation is in place in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Fire Safety is devolved in Wales, but the Bill amends the shared legislation. With the same delegated powers applying to English and Welsh Ministers.
Progress of the Bill
The Bill passed House of Commons stages without amendment on 7 September 2020. House of Lords consideration of the Bill was completed on 24 November 2020. The Bill was passed back to the Commons with five amendments. One of these amendments sought to restrict the passing on of remediation costs to leaseholders, supplemented by further proposed amendments in the Commons on the same issue, known as the ‘McPartland Smith’ amendments. These related to ongoing concern about the cost to leaseholders of cladding removal from high-rise residential buildings.
The Commons accepted two Government amendments on 24 February 2021. However, not other amendments including the one relating to remediation costs. Further consideration of the Bill took place in the Lords on 17 March and the Bill was returned to the Commons again with amendments relating to remediation costs. The Commons disagreed with these amendments on 22 March 2021. Further amendments in the House of Lords were made in relation to remediation costs on 20 April 2021. The Commons will consider the Bill again on 27 April 2021.
It is extremely important to consider Fire Safety in all non-residential buildings and in all homes of multiple occupancy. A Fire Risk Assessment is the first step to compliance. To book at Fire Risk Assessment or for any advice or quotes please Contact O J Safety on 01924 261789.