Fire regs Jan 2023 – Compass Skills Training
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Are You Prepared For New Fire Safety Regulations?

New regulations are being introduced under article 24 of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (Fire Safety Order), coming into full force January 23rd 2023.

 

These regulations will affect responsible persons (normally a building owner, or in residential properties, any other person in control of the premises) of high-rise blocks of flats as well as responsible persons in multi-occupied residential buildings which are high-rise buildings, as well as those above 11 metres in height. These changes will only affect those in England. Its also important to note that these regulations will not affect masionettes where there are no common parts through which an individual would evacuate in the event of a fire.

 

How it affects residential buildings with 2 or more domestic premises with common areas

1. The Fire Risk Assessment Prioritisation Tool (FRAPT) is an online tool designed to assist responsible persons to develop a strategy to prioritise their buildings to review their fire risk assessments, to ensure they take into account the clarifications outlined in the Act.

 

2. Information to residents – fire safety instructions. Residents must be given information regarding fire safety instructions i.e. fire evacuation routes. Perhaps this may be done when the residents move in to the building, or on an annual basis. Either way the information delivered needs to be consistent as miscommunication can lead unfortunately to deaths. Behavioural change leads to confidence in people to take the right action.

 

3. Information to residents – fire doors (fire door requirements are different for building’s above and below 11m in height). As above, the same is true of information given to residents about fire doors, especially the importance of compartmentation, and keeping fire doors shut when not in use.

 

How it affects residential buildings between 11m and 17.9m in height

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  1. Fire door checks For residential buildings of this height, someone acting on behalf of the responsible person will now do, at a minimum, monthly fire door checks. The person doing these checks needs to be qualified and needs to know what to look for in a fire door. Fire doors will need to be checked that they remain fit for purpose long after they are installed and that fire resistance has not been compromised when, for instance, maintenance has taken place. It also involves checking doors are being shut when not in use to create compartmentation.

 

How it affects residential buildings over 17.9m in height (high rises buildings)

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5. Secure information boxes should be in a low risk area accessible to the Fire & Rescue Service when needed. Duplications of the information inside is also beneficial to have. The boxes should be portable, so that they can be taken to a place of safety. A3 documents are better than A4 as the information needs to be large enough to read, especially if it is likely that it will be read in an emergency when there is potentially low level lighting. The information contained inside should include information on plans, extinguishers, evacuation plans, and numbers of people.

6. Design and materials of external walls. Cladding and surface materials will be looked at to see if it is adequate enough in terms of fire resistance. Government funding has been put in place to replace flammable cladding with safer alternatives, however this will be a 15 year programme meaning some residents may be living for years in buildings with unsafe cladding.

7. Floor plans and building plans will go in the secure information boxes. These need to be up to date and show the exact means of escape. It would be wise to review these plans annually or sooner if there is a change to the design of the building. If there is no change to the plans, you will need to show evidence that a review has been conducted.

8. Lifts and firefighting equipment. This applies to having risers where hoses can be attached at different levels. Fire rating of lifts need to be higher so the Fire & Rescue Service can get to where they need to.

9. Wayfinding signage. This means not just exit signs but having floor and apartment number signs properly illuminated too.

 

It is likely that inspection regimes will being in or around Autumn 2023. It is important to get evidence ready and in place for January but if that is not possible at least get a plan in place of how and when you plan to improve things.

 

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