Last June, the Home Office launched a call for evidence relating to the FSO, which ran until 31 July 2019, alongside a government consultation. In an announcement, the government stated that it was ‘seeking views’ on the FSO, which ‘underpins fire safety in non-domestic premises’, with both employers and business owners being asked for their perspectives.

It specifically noted that the call for evidence had come as part of the changes being made since Dame Judith Hackitt’s review of building regulations and fire safety was published in May 2018. An analysis of responses was to be published and ‘inform the government’s next steps’, and the call for evidence ‘complements’ the Building a Safer Future consultation, which ‘outlines how the government proposes to take forward meaningful legislative reform in the building safety regulatory system’.

In March earlier this year, as part of its announcement on the fire safety bill, the government published a summary of the responses received in the call for evidence, whereby it ‘invited views on the application of the FSO and sought to identify any changes that might be needed and how they could be best achieved’.

Some respondents identified areas where the FSO ‘could be amended to provide greater clarity’, though most agreed its ‘scope and objectives […] remain appropriate for all regulated premises’. Additionally, most also agreed that the FSO should ‘retain its focus on protecting lives over property’, and that it ‘should continue to provide a framework for a risk-based and proportionate approach to regulating fire safety’.

The government concluded by noting that a consultation ‘will be held later in the year on proposals and next steps’. This has now been launched, with the government stating it is ‘seeking views on proposals to strengthen’ the FSO and the regulatory framework ‘for how building control bodies consult with fire and rescue authorities’, as well as on how to ‘implement Grenfell Tower Inquiry recommendations’

It is open until 12 October 2020, with the government ‘determined to continue to learn the lessons from the Grenfell Tower fire’ as well as ‘reform building and fire safety to ensure that such a tragedy can never happen again’. The consultation’s proposals include strengthening the FSO to ‘improve compliance’, and implementing the inquiry’s first phase recommendations requiring a law change and ‘new requirements’ on building owners and manager of multi occupant residential buildings.

Finally, the consultation proposes that the government ‘strengthen the regulatory framework for how building control bodies consult with fire and rescue authorities and the handover of fire safety information’.