From the 1 October 2023, Section 156 of the Building Safety Act 2022 makes changes to The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 that will affect all Responsible Persons.

These changes improve the fire safety in non-domestic premises and any premises that contain two or more domestic dwellings (referred to as multi-occupied residential buildings).

What you need to do as a Responsible Person

Documenting and recording

All Responsible Persons must now record all findings from their fire risk assessment, regardless of the size or purpose of the premises.

  • Previously, there was a requirement to record only significant findings in a fire risk assessment in buildings that had five or more employees; a licence in place; and an alterations notice served on it. This is no longer the case.

All Responsible Persons must now record their fire safety arrangements.

  • Fire safety arrangements are how you manage the fire safety in your building. These can be anything from procedures you need to have written down to policies you have in place.

All Responsible Persons must now record the identity of the individual employed, or contracted by them, to undertake or review any or all of the fire risk assessment. This includes:

  • Their full name
  • Their organisation name, if applicable

If you appoint someone to help undertake or review your fire risk assessment they must be competent. By that we mean that must have sufficient training and experience or knowledge.

Cooperation and coordination

All Responsible Persons must now have a UK based address where they, or someone on their behalf will accept notices and other documentation.

  • This must include their contact information and be recorded and updated as it changes
  • This must be shared with other relevant responsible persons and any residents of multi-occupied residential buildings.

All Responsible Persons must now make sure they identify and make themselves known to any other Responsible Persons at the same premises.

  • For example, other Responsible Persons could include businesses or managing agents with the responsibility for fire safety in the part of the building they control.

Any departing Responsible Persons must take reasonable steps to share all relevant fire safety information with the incoming Responsible Persons. This is to maintain a chain of fire safety information across the whole of a building's lifetime.

Higher-risk buildings

Under the new laws the Building Safety Regulator (BSR) will regulate high-rise buildings. These are buildings with seven or more storeys or that are 18 metres or higher, and either:

  • have at least two residential units
  • are hospitals or care homes (during design and construction)

From 1 October 2023 all these buildings must be registered with the BSR and the BSR becomes the new building control authority for these buildings.

Responsible Persons for premises in a higher-risk building must identify and co-operate with the Accountable Person/s:

  • An Accountable Person is a new legal entity under the Building Safety Act 2022
    • An Accountable Person is someone who has the responsibility to repair or maintain anything under leasehold. Find out more about the role of an Accountable Person.

Information sharing

Responsible Persons in multi-occupied residential buildings must provide residents with "relevant fire safety matters". This is a longer list of fire safety matters than existed previously. Responsible Persons now need to provide residents with:

  • Instructions on how to report a fire
  • A reminder of what the evacuation strategy is for that building
  • Any other instruction that tells residents what they must do once a fire has occurred, based on the building’s evacuation strategy.
  • The risks that have been identified in the fire risk assessment - new
  • The preventive and protective measures - new
  • The name and UK address of the Responsible Person as well as the identity of any person appointed to assist with making or reviewing the fire risk assessment – new

Other Changes to the Fire Safety Order

As well as the changes above, the Building Safety act also makes the following changes to the Fire Safety Order:

  • Higher fines for some offences. This applies:
    • Where someone intentionally impersonates an inspector
    • When someone fails to comply (without reasonable excuse) with specific requirements imposed by an inspector (such as by not providing a copy of the fire risk assessment when requested)
    • When someone fails to comply with requirements relating to the installation of luminous tube signs.
    • After 1 October 2023 you can receive an unlimited fine for the offences above.
  • Section 156 of the Building Safety Act also strengthens the status of all Article 50 guidance.
    • This means that a court may take whether or not you comply with Article 50 guidance into account when establishing whether there was a breach of the Fire Safety Order.

Further information

Government guidance is available that explains what a Responsible Persons need to do because of these changes: Fire safety responsibilities under Section 156 of the Building Safety Act 2022 - GOV.UK

Please note, the changes above are in addition to changes you may have already seen to the Fire Safety Act 2021 and the Fire Safety Regulations 2022.