New Fire Safety Regulations in England to implement ‘most’ Grenfell Tower inquiry recommendations

The Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 introduce new duties for building owners and managers under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. They implement most of the recommendations of the Phase 1 report of the Grenfell Tower inquiry and are due to come into force on 23rd January 2023.

Under the new regulations, for high rise residential buildings (at least 18 metres or seven storeys high) responsible persons must:

  • Share electronically with their local fire and rescue service information about the design and material of a buildings external wall system and inform the fire and rescue service of any material changes.
  • Provide their local fire and rescue service with up-to-date electronic building floor plans and keep hard copies of these floor plans. In addition to a single page building plan which identifies key firefighting equipment in a secure box accessible by firefighters.
  • Install wayfinding signage which is visible in low light or smoky conditions that identifies flat and floor numbers in the stairwells of relevant buildings
  • Establish a minimum of monthly checks on the operation of firefighting lifts and evacuation lifts. they must also check the functionality of essential pieces of firefighting equipment monthly. Any defective lifts or equipment must be reported to the local fire and rescue service as soon as possible if the fault cannot be fixed within 24 hours. The outcome of checks must be recorded and made available to residents.
  • Install and maintain a secure information box in their building. This box must contain the name and contact details of the responsible person and hard copies of the building floor plans.

Multi-occupied residential buildings over 11 metres high must have quarterly checks on all communal fire doors and annual checks on flat entrance doors.

All multi-occupied residential buildings must provide residents with relevant fire safety instructions and information about the importance of fire doors.

The regulations sit alongside the Building Safety Act amendments to the Fire Safety Order, and the government’s overhaul of supporting guidance under article 50 of the Fire Safety Order, due to be published later in 2022.

The two Grenfell Tower Inquiry recommendations on personal emergency evacuation plans (PEEPS), however, are not being implemented through these regulations. The government concluded that its consultation on PEEPs showed substantial difficulties of mandating PEEPs in high-rise residential buildings. So it has consulted on an alternative package of measures to deliver against the inquiry recommendations on PEEPs, referred to as emergency evacuation information sharing (EEIS+). The government asserts that since the inquiry recommendation on evacuation plans has a clear link with the issue of PEEPs, evacuation from high-rise and other residential buildings should be treated as a single issue.

The regulations will, however, require responsible persons to provide residents with fire safety instructions which set out how they should respond to a fire, and a reminder of their building’s evacuation strategy.