Changes to fire safety laws for high rise residential buildings

From 23 January, those responsible for fire safety in high rise residential buildings in England must by law provide information to fire and rescue services. Residents will now have better access to information about the fire safety measures in place in their buildings.

This comes more than five and a half years since the Grenfell Tower Fire in June 2017 where 72 people died. The Grenfell Tower Inquiry published its phase one report in December 2019 and made 46 recommendations for change including many that required new legislation. The Government is amending the 2005 Fire Safety Order.

The responsible person under fire safety regulations will now have to provide building plans and information about external wall systems to their local fire and rescue sevice. Lifts have to be checked on a monthly basis and where defects are found, the responsible person has to inform the fire and rescue service if it is not fixed within 24 hours. Likewise, fire doors are now subject to regular inspection Information about the building must be placed in a premises information box in the building.

Controversially, this batch of changes to fire safety law does not include implementing the recommendations from the Inquiry about Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans. The Government said, “The PEEPs consultation made clear the substantial difficulties of mandating PEEPs in high-rise residential buildings. We recognise that this is an important issue and so the government has consulted on an alternative package of initiatives to deliver against the inquiry recommendations that relate to PEEPs.” The response to the consultation has not yet been published.

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