The UK Parliament has recently passed the Fire Safety Act 2021 but no commencement date has been announced.
The Fire Safety Act will apply to both England and Wales, and Wales have indicated to us that they intend to commence the Act from “autumn”.
Guidance to accompany the Act is currently being worked on, so we will publish more detail when that is completed, but until then, we summarise the Act below.
One of the primary pieces of fire safety legislation is the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (FSO) which applies to common parts of a residential building (among other things not relevant to our audience).
The responsible person (in our context normally the landlord) must carry out a fire risk assessment of the common parts and follow the order which requires keyless exit, emergency lighting, fire alarms and extinguishers for example (not a limited list).
However, the FSO in its current form is unclear about external walls and interior doors leading onto a common area.
The Fire Safety Act intends to fix this by amending the FSO and adding clarity for the situation “Where a building contains two or more sets of domestic premises”. In such a building, the FSO will apply to “the building’s structure and external walls and any common parts” and “all doors between the domestic premises and common parts”.
External walls will include doors or windows in those walls, and anything attached to the exterior of those walls (including balconies).
As mentioned earlier, guidance is being worked on by officials, and we will publish more information when more is known on that.