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Following the tragic events at Grenfell Tower in 2017, there has been ongoing sector scrutiny and heightened focus on improving fire safety measures to protect tenants and prevent other future tragedies 

In the wake of Grenfell, a number of new legislations were enacted under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 in a much-needed proactive move to protect buildings and tenants from fire. An inquiry led by Sir Martin Moore Bick determined that the cladding used on Grenfell Tower did not adhere to Building Regulations designed to inhibit the spread of fire externally; rather, it “actively promoted it”.  

Three stages of fire safety reform in the UK have been enacted post-Grenfell: the Fire Safety Act 2021, Fire Safety (England) Regulations) 2022, and Section 156 of the Building Safety Act 2022. It’s crucial that you understand and are adhering to the requirements of each of these legislations to keep your buildings safe. 

Fire Safety Legislation Infographic

Webinar - link preview images  - May  2024To gain insight into staying compliant with the most recent legislation and your end-to-end fire safety journey, catch up on our latest fire safety webinar, 'Fire Safety: Building Height, Compartmentation, and FRAEWs' on-demand now. 


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Let’s take a deep dive into the key areas of fire safety that you must understand to ensure the compliance of your buildings and the safety of your tenants.  

General fire hazards Fire Triangle-1

Fires need three things to start: 

  • A source of ignition, including heaters, lighters, naked flames, and electrical equipment.
  • A source of fuel, including wood, paper, plastic, and rubber.  
  • Oxygen. 

Your regulatory responsibilities  

Your legal and moral duty of care to your tenants is of utmost importance when it comes to fire safety. Ensuring that all tenants understand the risks, precautions, and their role in the event of a fire is critical to maintaining their safety. Therefore, you must understand your legal obligations to keep them safe and well-informed.  

Landlord’s key requirements for fire safety in non-domestic premises fall under The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (Fire Safety Order), the most significant piece of fire safety legislation for buildings in England and Wales. Compliance involves ensuring your premises meet the prescribed standards for your building type, providing adequate fire safety training to employees, and regularly updating a Fire Risk Assessment (FRA) conducted by a competent individual. Explore more about the fire safety legislative framework in our blog, ‘Navigating the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 in 2024’.  

Secondary fire safety legislation amends and enhances the stipulations of the Fire Safety Order to ensure all landlords fully comprehend their obligations to comply with fire safety regulations. These are detailed below.  

Phase one of the fire safety reform comprised of the introduction of the Fire Safety Act 2021, which specifies that Responsible Persons (RPs) for multi-occupied residential buildings must manage and mitigate fire risks for the building, including cladding, balconies, windows, and entrance doors to individual flats that open into common parts. Delve into the details in our blog, ‘Fire Safety Act 2021: Are you the ‘Responsible Person’?’ 

The Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 were implemented under Article 24 of the Fire Safety Order as the second phase of the fire safety legislation updates, requiring RPs of high-rise blocks of flats to provide information to Fire and Rescue Services for effective operational response planning. They must also provide additional safety measures and fire safety instructions on the importance of fire doors to tenants. To discover an in-depth insight into the legislation, read our blog, ‘A Step-by-Step Guide to the Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022’.  

Cover image - Your guide to Section 156 of the Building Safety Act 2022 - Pennington ChoicesPhase three is the most recent amendment to the Fire Safety Order under Section 156 of the Building Safety Act, which updated the responsibilities of the RP to record FRAs in full, cooperate and coordinate with other RPs and tenants, and share information with tenants. Download your free Guide to Section 156 of the Building Safety Act 2022 for more detailed insight into the latest updates. 

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But who is responsible?  

You could be responsible for fire safety if you are an employer, the building owner, the landlord, or anyone else with control of the premises. You are known as the Responsible Person (RP). If there is more than one responsible person, you must work together to meet your obligations. 

As the RP, your duties entail ensuring that your building complies with relevant fire safety legislation, clarifying the fire safety strategy for tenants, and guaranteeing the safety of everyone within the premises from the threat of fire. 

Passive vs Active fire protection  

There are two sides to your fire safety approach: active and passive fire protection.  

Passive fire protection are the systems used to prevent a fire from spreading using compartmentation measures. This includes:  

  • Compartmentation lines and fire-stopping 
  • Fire doors 
  • Firewalls and floors 
  • Fire curtains 
  • Fire and smoke dampers 

Active fire protection are the systems used to detect and stop a fire, including: 

  • Fire alarm systems 
  • Emergency escape lighting 
  • Fire suppression and sprinkler systems  
  • Smoke ventilation, including automatic vents  
  • Disabled refuge areas  
  • Fire hydrant testing and maintenance  
  • Emergency voice communication systems (EVCS) 
  • Dry and wet risers 
  • Public address voice alarms 
  • Fire hose reels 
  • Portable fire extinguishers 

Active and passive fire protection systems work collaboratively to notify occupants of a fire whilst safely containing the fire, enabling efficient evacuation and efforts to suppress the fire. Your Fire Risk Assessment (FRA) will encompass both active and passive fire protection measures, offering a comprehensive overview of your building's fire hazards and identifying areas that require your focus.  

Assessing the risk of fire  

Conducting a Fire Risk Assessment (FRA) and reviewing it regularly is a legal requirement under Article 9 (3) of the Fire Safety Order and is a crucial step towards demonstrating proactive measures in achieving fire safety compliance. The main aim of your FRA is to evaluate the risk of fire within the building by identifying hazards, assessing individuals at risk, managing these risks, and documenting your findings. To ensure your FRA is robust and representative of all your building’s risks, the FRA must be undertaken by a competent individual.
Need help appointing a reliable fire risk assessor? Get in touch with one of our experts.

For an in-depth insight into conducting an FRA, types of FRAs, and recent updates, read more in our latest blog, ‘Fire Risk Assessment: Steps, types, and regulations’.  

Under the Fire Safety Act 2021, all multi-occupied residential buildings with two or more sets of domestic premises now also require the FRA to include consideration of external wall construction. 

An External Wall System (EWS) encompasses the outer wall of a residential building, including cladding, insulation, and firebreak systems. To maintain compliance with external wall guidance, RPs must share any information on the material of the external walls and the level of risk of spread of fire with their local Fire and Rescue Service. 

Preventing the risk of fire spread  

Fire compartmentation assesses the risk of fire spread by evaluating the effectiveness of fire doors, walls, seals, and floors in maintaining compartmentation. Read more about compartmentation here: ‘What Every Building Owner Should Know About Fire Compartmentation’.  

  • Fire doors: All multi-occupied residential buildings of 11 or more metres must have quarterly checks of fire doors and annual checks of flat entrance doors. They must also be signposted and routinely checked, with all fire door information being shared with the tenant. To find out more about what to look for when checking fire doors, click here.     
  • Walls and floors: Fire-resistant materials should be applied to service openings and joints between walls, to prevent cracks or holes allowing fire and smoke to spread between compartments. 
  • Seals and fire stopping: BS 7671:2018 mandates that electrical installers seal penetrations for wiring systems to prevent the spread of fire. 

To gain assurance that your building’s compartmentation is suitable for reducing the risk of fire spread, a Compartmentation Survey will provide you with a comprehensive overview of any gaps within your compartment or your strategy. Alternatively, a Compartmentation Sample Survey is a quick and efficient way of gaining assurance that your compartmentation is sufficient or highlighting areas requiring further investigation. Discover more about Compartmentation Surveys in our blog, ‘What is a Fire Compartmentation Survey and Why Do You Need One?’.  

What if there is a fire?  

As the RP, it’s your responsibility to ensure tenants are well-informed on the fire safety information. This means sharing information such as how to report a fire, the evacuation strategy, and any other instructions that tell a tenant what to do once a fire has occurred.  

If you have taken all the above measures to achieve fire safety compliance, the likelihood of fire spread and danger to life is significantly lower. Should a fire occur , these measures ensure tenants know how to protect themselves, the Fire and Rescue Service have all the information they need for quick and efficient action, and the fire will be contained in one compartment to prevent the fire from spreading. 

Is fire safety concerning you?

Do you need assurance that your practices are safe and compliant? Our team of fire safety experts are on hand to provide help with all aspects of your fire safety approach from Fire Risk Assessments and Compartmentation Surveys to FRAEWs, Fire door checks and Fire Strategies

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