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Legislation Activity for October 2020

Fire Safety Bill – progressing to Royal Assent

The Home Office introduced a new Fire Safety Bill to improve fire safety in buildings in England and Wales. The bill was introduced in the House of Commons on 19 March 2020.

The bill will amend the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (the Fire Safety Order) 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 buildings, including cladding, balconies and windows
  • entrance doors to individual flats that open into common parts

These are likely to be the responsible persons who need to ensure that they have assessed the fire safety risks of the premises for which they are responsible, and have taken the necessary fire precautions as a result of that assessment. This clarification will empower fire and rescue services to take enforcement action and hold building owners to account if they are not compliant.

The provisions in the Bill extend and apply to England and Wales.

This is how the bill progresses to Royal Assent:

 

New Building Safety Regulator – who is this?

The Government announced that a new building safety regulator, which was established immediately, would be part of the HSE. The purpose of the new building safety regulator is to improve building safety and performance standards, including overseeing a new, more stringent regime for higher risk buildings.

The golden thread

The new regulatory regime will require designers, contractors and building operators to maintain a digital record of the building from the design stage through to building operation. This information will also be used for subsequent refurbishment, with a broad range of disciplines needing to collaborate digitally.

The Building Safety Manager – a new role to fill

The Building Safety Manager will support the Appointed Person in fulfilling its duties to manage fire and structural risks and will have the day-to-day task of ensuring that the building is safely managed and maintained.

The BSM’s specific functions will include:

  • ensuring that those employed to maintain, manage and check the building have the necessary skills, knowledge and experience;
  • maintaining information management systems to facilitate safe management of the building;
  • maintaining the building’s safety case so that risks are proactively identified and mitigating measures implemented and maintained;
  • ensuring that building remediation is undertaken in order to meet the conditions of the building safety certificate;
  • ensuring that fire risk assessments for the building are undertaken and reviewed regularly, and that recommendations are implemented in a timely fashion;
  • reporting specified “mandatory occurrences” – for example the partial or total failure of emergency fire systems – to the Building Safety Regulator; and
    engaging residents about the safe management of their building, providing them with a route to escalate their concerns.

 

Building Safety Advice for Building Owners

Issued in January 2020, this document brings together a number of advice notes for building owners on the measures they should take to ensure their buildings are safe.

It covers the safety of external wall systems (including spandrel panels and balconies), smoke control systems, fire doors and what short-term measures should be put in place should a significant safety issue be identified. It additionally reflects the independent panel view that cladding material comprised of ACM (and other metal composites) with an unmodified polyethylene core should not be on residential buildings of any height and should be removed.

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