The new UK fire safety regulations that are enshrined within the Building Safety Act 2022 are being introduced in response to the Grenfell Tower Inquiry. This exposed multiple flaws in fire protection measures that directly contributed to the loss of 72 lives in the 2017 disaster.
The new regulations are designed to enhance the level of protection for residents in high-rise residential buildings and to reduce the risks to occupants in the event that a blaze occurs. By understanding and implementing these guidelines, those named as Responsible Persons, such as leaseholders, building owners, and property managers, can create a safer living environment for everyone.
In this article, we’ll outline the key points of the legislation of which high-rise building owners and landlords need to be aware.
Liaison With Fire And Rescue Services (FRS)
A key requirement outlined in the new legislation is the need to keep local FRSs updated with accurate building plans and design information. This will ensure that crews have the necessary information to effectively navigate the building in the event of a fire. By providing up-to-date information, it will be easier for firefighters to assess potential risks and plan how to tackle a blaze in the safest and most effective way possible.
Regular maintenance and assessments of firefighting lifts, evacuation lifts, and firefighting equipment are essential. By conducting monthly inspections to ensure that these crucial components are in proper working order, landlords, property managers, or their appointed agents will be able to promptly identify issues or faults and take swift action to rectify them. With the firefighting infrastructure in prime condition, all stakeholders will be better placed to tackle fires or evacuate the property quickly and safely.
Keeping Residents Informed
The new fire safety regulations also require the installation of secure information boxes and wayfinding signage. These measures support residents and FRSs in quickly accessing critical information during a fire incident by:
- Storing important documents, including building plans and evacuation procedures, in a centralised location so that they can be quickly accessed.
- Guiding residents through a dark or smoke-filled building to the nearest emergency exits or firefighting equipment to minimise confusion and improve the speed and safety of evacuations.
Assessing The Condition And Quality Of Fire Doors
In mid-rise social housing buildings, specific requirements are in place for the checking of doors to communal areas, such as foyers and corridors, and individual flats. The designated Responsible Person (or their agent) should inspect the doors at least annually to ensure they meet current safety standards. Common area fire doors should undergo quarterly inspections to ensure they provide adequate fire resistance and that their level of protection won’t be reduced by damage or faults.
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