Following the Grenfell Tower fire on 14 June 2017, which claimed the lives of 72 people, the government established the Independent Grenfell Tower Inquiry in August 20171. The Inquiry published its first phase report in October 2019 with several recommendations, some of which were directed towards the government and required a change in the law to implement.
The Inquiry’s recommendations referred mostly to high-rise buildings, commonly defined in England as at least 18 metres (or seven storeys) high. Building standards become more restrictive at this height and firefighting tactics change2.
The Fire Safety (England) Regulations 20223 implemented most of the Inquiry’s recommendations.
What do the new regulations stipulate?
- ‘Responsible persons’ of mid- and high-rise blocks of flats, will be required to:
- Provide information to their local fire and rescue service to help them with up-to-date electronic building plans and information on the design and materials of their external walls;
- Undertake monthly checks of firefighting lifts, evacuation lifts and other key pieces of firefighting equipment;
- Report defects in lifts and equipment to the local fire and rescue service if the fault cannot be fixed within 24 hours;
- Install a secure information box containing the name and contact details of the responsible person and hard copies of the building floor plans;
- Install wayfinding signage that is visible in low light or smoky conditions, and clearly identifies flat and floor numbers in the stairwells; and
- Make outcomes of safety inspections available to residents.
- In mid-rise residential buildings (over 11 metres in height), responsible persons will be required to undertake annual checks of flat entrance doors and quarterly checks of all fire doors in the common part.
- Residents of multi-occupied residential buildings should be provided with fire safety instructions, including how to report a fire and what to do once a fire has occurred, based on the evacuation strategy for the building. Information relating to the importance of fire doors must also be provided.
Responsible persons should also remain aware of their existing duties under articles 8–22 of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 20054, in particular, articles 8 (duty to take general fire precautions), 14 (emergency routes and exits) and 15 (procedures for serious and imminent danger and for danger areas)4.
What recommendations were not included?
Some of the Inquiry’s recommendations will not be implemented through the Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022, namely recommendations on Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans (PEEPs), and Emergency Evacuation Information Sharing (EEIS+) and evacuation plans. This is because the government ran a separate consultation on PEEPs, followed by an EEIS+ consultation. Both consultations are now closed and the government is analysing the responses received.
We will keep you updated on the results of these consultations. In the meantime, if you would like to speak to our specialist team about fire safety or any other area of risk management, please get in touch with us on 0800 138 7538.