Frequently Asked Questions Surrounding Fire Safety & The Building Safety Act 2022

Question 1 – I have less than 5 employees do I need a written fire risk assessment?

As of October 1, 2023, the Building Safety Act: Section 156 stipulates that all responsible individuals, such as employers, must document a thorough fire risk assessment for non-domestic premises. This includes workplaces and communal areas within multi-occupied residential buildings, such as communal corridors, stairways, and plant rooms. It’s important to note that individual domestic premises are exempt from this requirement.

Question 2 – Does my building need a fire strategy?

In cases where an alteration qualifies as a ‘material’ change or involves the construction of a new building, the contractor is obligated to provide a fire strategy according to regulation 38 of the Building Act. This requirement is particularly emphasised for older, large, complex buildings, or those employing a fire-engineered solution. Importantly, if the fire risk assessment determines the necessity for such a strategy, it can be a noteworthy outcome identified within this process. This falls under the purview of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order.

Question 3 – Do I need to test my equipment to a British Standard?

British Standards lack legal authority but hold significance in the upkeep of fire safety equipment, as stipulated in Article 17 of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order. Utilising a standard, such as a British Standard, provides a pragmatic approach to evaluating and maintaining fire precautions like fire alarms. While adherence to established standards is common for simplicity and efficiency, it’s essential to note that alternative standards or self-developed standards may be acceptable if they can be justified and are relevant to a recognised standard or its equivalent. Many individuals opt to follow a standard or manufacturer’s instructions for the sake of simplicity and operational efficiency.

Question 4 – Why do I need to test my fire alarm every week?

As stated in Q 3, this is a standard that can be deviated from with proper justification. However, the test serves multiple purposes:

· To provide assurance that the alarm is audible across its designated coverage area.

· To acquaint individuals within the building with the specific sound of the fire alarm.

· To confirm the functionality of the alarm, recognising it as a vital element of fire precautions and procedures.

The testing period is intentionally kept brief to ensure a comprehensive assessment of its full functionality.

Question 5 – Can I prop my fire door open?

Do not wedge open fire doors unless there is a valid reason, and you can demonstrate appropriate management. For example, if your office is excessively hot and requires ventilation, you may temporarily open the door, but you must stay in that area and be ready to safely remove the obstruction in the event of a fire or fire alarm before leaving the building. Propping open fire doors may result in personal prosecution, including the responsible person, if a fire extends beyond the door. Moreover, using a fire extinguisher to prop the door open is also an offense and should be avoided.

Question 6 – Have there been changes to the Fire Safety Law?

In February, the Fire Safety England Regulations were introduced for residential premises in England. As of October 1, 2023, the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order underwent an amendment through the Building Safety Act.

Question 7 – What changes have been made to the Fire Safety Order?

Documenting & Recording Requirements:

Every Responsible Person is obligated to document their findings from the fire risk assessment, without regard to the size or purpose of the premises.

All Responsible Persons must maintain records of their fire safety arrangements, encompassing procedures and policies.

It is mandatory for all Responsible Persons to document the identity of the individual employed or contracted to carry out or review any fire risk assessments.

When selecting someone to aid or assess your fire risk assessment, it is essential to ascertain their competence, indicating that they possess sufficient training, experience, or knowledge.

Cooperation and coordination

It is now a requirement for all Responsible Persons to have a UK-based address where they, or a designated representative, can receive notices and other documentation.

All Responsible Persons are now obligated to identify and introduce themselves to any other Responsible Persons present at the same premises.

In the event of a Responsible Person leaving their role, they must take reasonable steps to share all pertinent fire safety information with the incoming Responsible Persons.

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