Fire Safety Act 2021

Fire Safety Bill receives Royal Assent and is now an Act of Parliament, leading to major changes to fire safety in response to the Grenfell Tower fire.

The Fire Safety Act 2021 provides the legal basis for meeting some of the recommendations from Sir Martin Moore-Bick’s Grenfell Inquiry Phase 1 report.

The Act makes changes to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, known as the Fire Safety Order.

It’s not the end of the process, as much of the content of the Act requires a further series of regulations to be made under the Fire Safety Order and they will need to be consulted on over the coming months.

In a huge blow to the End our Cladding Scandal campaign and the thousands of affected leaseholders, it does not include a provision that would see leaseholders not pay for remedial works to remove dangerous cladding from their buildings.

The Act makes good a long-standing issue about who is responsible for the fire safety of communal doors, external walls and anything attached, such as balconies. It also allows for further changes to be made to which premises are covered by the Fire Safety Order in the future - so that they won’t require any more primary legislation (i.e. another Act of Parliament).

It also toughens up the status of related guidance.

In future, those responsible for the fire safety of a building will have to share information about the external walls with the local fire and rescue service.

Building owners or managers will also have to inspect flat entrance doors annually and lifts monthly, telling the local fire and rescue service if there are any faults with lifts.

All residents of buildings which have two or more flats will have to have access to evacuation and fire safety instructions provided by the building owner or manager.

In a new development, a public register of fire risk assessments will be established. It’s not clear who will manage the register, but the detail on this is likely to emerge through the consultation on the regulations that have to be in place to allow this to work.