Fire Safety Bill Updates

One of the key recommendations to come from the Hackitt Review is the proposed new Fire Safety Bill which cleared the Commons in September 2020 and has now been debated in the House of Lords with only a few amendments recommended. Chair of the National Fire Chiefs Council Roy Wilsher said: “I am pleased to see the announcement of the new Fire Safety Bill. We have been calling for additional powers since 2017 and these changes should contribute to the public feeling safer in their homes. We look forward to seeing additional supportive measures to assist fire and rescue services, identify different types of cladding and take appropriate measures.”

Roof Fire

The Bill looks to amend the Fire Safety Order 2005 to clarify that the responsible person or duty-holder for multi-occupied, residential buildings must manage and reduce the risk of fire for the structure and external walls of the building, including cladding, balconies and windows along with entrance doors to individual flats that open into common parts.

Clear roles and responsibilities for the safety of the building(s) are to be established from the outset in line with those set out in CDM 2015. As Principal Designer we are ideally placed to assist the client and design team in meeting their duties, satisfying the required gateways, and with any additional safety reporting required to the JCA. Scott White and Hookins are already being asked to include these additional duties within our service offering by both our Local Authority and Social Landlord clients, and we know through consultation it is also high on the agenda of many private developers.

In addition to taking on these additional duties, at Scott White and Hookins we would always look to assist the client in ensuring robust competency checks are in place and that any proposed Principal Contractor has a proven procurement strategy that does not place cost above that of any safety requirement. Rigorous product testing and certification should also form part of the procurement strategy, especially for items relating to the external walls and structure something our Structural and Civils division are currently championing within the industry.

The Hackitt review also calls for the recording and passing over of critical safety information at each stage of the project and again, as Principal Designer, we are perfectly placed to assist in collating and recording this information within the Health and Safety File, a draft of which is now commenced at project outset and continuously undated throughout the project lifecycle under CDM 2015.

As part of the robust design hazard identification and management process advocated and adopted by Scott White and Hookins, we would detail any element that falls within the updated Fire Safety Order as a separate section within our tracker to ensure that it is highlighted and interrogated at each risk workshop from the outset and at every stage of the project moving forward.

Full and proper participation by the fire engineer at these workshops is essential and, from our experience, this has been lacking in the past with an independent desk based review preferred. As part of a dynamic design team, where decisions effecting fire are ever present, this engagement is essential.

Should you wish to discuss the requirements of the Fire Safety Bill and implications this may have on any existing or future development you may be considering then please contact a member of our health and safety division on 020 8773 3131 or info@swh.co.uk.

Residential Public Buildings CDM Consultants