Ahead of the commencement of Section 156 of the Building Safety Act 2022 in October 2023, the Home Office has published new guidance on the fire safety responsibilities of responsible persons (RPs).
Released on 3 July 2023, the vital government guidance covers the types of buildings the new fire safety requirements apply to, the duties for all RPs and those RPs of buildings that contain two or more sets of domestic premises, and other changes to fire safety legislation. Its purpose is to ensure that RPs have the necessary information in which to prepare for the changes that will come into force later this year.
In particular, the guidance highlights the requirement for RPs to keep a record of a full and completed fire risk assessment; the fire safety arrangements within their premises; and, in buildings containing two or more sets of domestic premises, provide residents with relevant fire safety information in a format that can be easily understood:
“You should make available as much information as possible about fire safety in your premises. This new requirement replaces the previous requirement to record only the significant findings of the risk assessment. It also removes the previous limitations on the circumstances within which you are required to record both the risk assessment and the fire safety arrangements at your premises, such as only being required to record this information if there were five or more employees or where subject to licensing or an alterations notice.”
As outlined in the guidance, “These requirements apply to all non-domestic premises, such as where people work, visit, or stay, including workplaces, and the non-domestic parts of multi-occupied residential buildings (e.g. communal corridors, stairways, plant rooms). The requirements do not apply within individual domestic premises.”
The Home Office adds that a competent person must be appointed by the RP to make or review the fire risk assessment, adding that the legislative requirement for this will be “brought into force at a later date”.
“In the meantime, if you do appoint a fire risk assessor, our recommendation is that you ensure they are competent to do so, in terms of having sufficient training and experience or knowledge and other qualities. It remains the case that the Responsible Person has a duty to make sure that a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment is completed.”
Briefly, the duties to be taken up by RPs include:
- Recording your fire risk assessment and other information
- Cooperation and coordination between RPs
- Cooperation with accountable persons
- Provision of information to new RPs
RPs of buildings that contain two or more sets of domestic premises are also required to provide necessary information to residents.
The full guidance can be accessed here.