New Fire Safety Duties For The Responsible Person: What You Need To Know

September 1, 2023

New Amendments Go Live 1 Month from now.
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In a move to bolster fire safety regulations, the government has recently issued new guidance that significantly impacts the role of Responsible Persons (RPs). These fresh directives, published on 3 July 2023, are set to come into effect with the commencement of Section 156 of the Building Safety Act 2022 on the 1st of October 2023. They outline crucial changes made to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, mandating specific actions and responsibilities for RPs.

Table of Contents

Understanding the Scope

The new requirements apply universally to all non-domestic premises, encompassing workplaces and non-domestic sections of multi-occupied residential buildings. However, it’s important to note that they do not extend to individual domestic premises.

Read The Goverment Publication on Section 156

New Duties for Responsible Persons

To better comprehend the alterations and their implications, let’s delve into the specifics of the new duties imposed on RPs:

1. Recording Your Fire Risk Assessment (FRA) in Full

Previously, RPs were only obligated to document the significant findings of their FRA. Under the revised regulations, they must maintain a comprehensive and complete record of the FRA, including all findings and the fire safety arrangements for their premises.

  • RPs are now required to record the identity of the individual or organisation responsible for conducting or reviewing any part of the FRA.
  • Additionally, RPs must document their fire safety arrangements, showcasing how fire safety is managed within the premises.
  • If an RP hires a fire risk assessor to perform the FRA, they must record the assessor’s name and, where applicable, their organisation. It is incumbent on the RP to ensure the competency of the assessor.

The guidance emphasises the need for RPs to possess extensive information regarding their premises’ fire safety.

2. Cooperation and Coordination Between RPs

RPs must identify the presence of other RPs within their premises. If multiple RPs exist, they must share their names and UK-based addresses for receiving notices or documentation. Written notification of their responsibilities under the Fire Safety Order is mandatory, with a record to be kept.

The possibility of multiple RPs is significant in scenarios like multi-occupancy commercial buildings. This includes not only other businesses but also landlords and possibly managing agents with overarching safety responsibilities.

3. Cooperation with Accountable Persons

For RPs in higher risk residential buildings (at least 18 meters in height or with at least 7 storeys and at least 2 residential units), cooperation with the Accountable Person(s) is crucial. RPs must:

  • Identify the Accountable Person(s) within the premises, typically the landlord or management company.
  • Collaborate with them to facilitate the performance of their duties under the Building Safety Act, including sharing the fire risk assessment.

This requirement aims to ensure a comprehensive approach to building and fire safety within such premises.

4. Provision of Information to New RPs

When transitioning to a new RP, existing RPs are obligated to share pertinent fire safety information. This ensures a continuous record of fire safety information throughout the building’s lifespan. Information to be provided includes:

  • Fire risk assessment and review records, along with any information from other Responsible Persons.
  • Details of individuals who assisted in the assessment or review.
  • Name and UK address of the Responsible Person or their representative for receiving notices.
  • Accountable Person’s identity, if applicable (in higher risk residential buildings).
  • Any information supplied under regulation 38 of the Building Regulations 2010.

 

5. Buildings with Multiple Domestic Premises

For buildings housing two or more sets of domestic premises, RPs must offer residents certain information, including:

  • Identifying risks to residents as identified in the FRA.
  • Detailing fire safety measures in place, such as escape routes, fire prevention measures, and emergency procedures.
  • Providing the Responsible Person’s name and UK address.
  • Identifying individuals nominated to implement firefighting measures.
  • Communicating any risks to relevant individuals within the building identified by other Responsible Persons.

Other Changes

Apart from the above-mentioned duties, the Building Safety Act introduces two additional amendments to the Fire Safety Order:

  • Section 156: This section enhances the level of fines for certain offenses under Article 32, increasing it from level 3 (up to £1000) to level 5 (unlimited). This change becomes effective on 1 October 2023.
  • Section 156: This section strengthens the status of Article 50 guidance, allowing it to be relied upon in court proceedings for alleged breaches of the Fire Safety Order. This can aid in establishing whether or not there was a breach.

For more details on these amendments and the comprehensive guidance, please refer to this link.

In conclusion, these new responsibilities for Responsible Persons mark a significant shift in fire safety regulations, emphasising transparency, cooperation, and accountability. RPs should familiarise themselves with these changes and proactively implement them to ensure the safety of their premises and all occupants.

FAQ's

A Responsible Person is typically someone with control over non-domestic premises. This can include business owners, landlords, and managing agents in certain scenarios.

Recording a full FRA helps ensure transparency and accountability in managing fire safety within a premises. It provides a comprehensive record of risks and safety measures.

Yes, non-compliance can result in fines, and in some cases, imprisonment. Non-compliance with the legislation may result in prosecution or legal action being taken.

The Building Safety Act introduces regulatory changes to improve building and fire safety, and it mandates cooperation between Responsible Persons and Accountable Persons.

These changes aim to make residents more informed about fire safety measures in their buildings, enhancing their safety and peace of mind.