The Fire Safety Bill: Extending the scope of the Fire Safety Order

5 October 2020

On 1 October, the Fire Safety Bill had its second reading and debate in the House of Lords.

The Bill is short but introduces important new measures. Lord Greenhalgh, the Minister of State, Home Office and Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government provided a detailed explanation of the Bill to the House of Lords.  He described the Bill as just one part of a wider programme to deliver change to address building safety and fire safety risks. 

Lord Greenhalgh commented that at present, there are differing interpretations of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 on whether the external walls and individual flat entrance doors fall within the scope of the Order.  This ambiguity, he said, is leading to inconsistency in operational practice which is

unhelpful at best; at worst it means that the full identification and management of fire safety risks is compromised, which could put the lives of residents at risk.’"

The Bill therefore amends the Fire Safety Order, to clarify that the Order applies to the structure, external walls (cladding and balconies) and individual flat entrance doors in multi-occupied residential buildings.  It is hoped this will ensure that fire and rescue services can confidently take enforcement action and hold building owners or managers to account if they are not compliant with their duties under the Order. 

It is clear and indeed was accepted by Lord Greenhalgh, that the Bill will have significant operational implications, in particular the need for ‘Responsible Persons’ under the Order to review and update their fire risk assessments given the wider scope of the Order.  The date for the Bill to progress to the House of Lords Committee is to be announced.

Read our previous update: The Fire Safety Bill: Greater clarity on the duties of the Responsible Person? 

About the author

Hannah Eales is an experienced advocate and a regulatory, health and safety and criminal law specialist. Hannah has a particular expertise in Fire Safety law having prosecuted on behalf of Fire and Rescue Authorities in the Magistrates’ and Crown Courts and the Court of Appeal.  

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