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Industry News


Unlimited fines for those who breach new fire safety regulations


B


uilding owners could face unlimited fines as tough new measures are brought in to strengthen fire safety rules for the nation’s


housing nearly four years after the Grenfell Tower tragedy, the Home Office has announced. As part of the Government’s response to ensure


people are safe in their own homes, the limitless fines will be handed out to anyone caught obstructing or impersonating a fire inspector, as well as to those who breach fire safety regulations under the Fire Safety Order. The new measures were announced as part of the


Government’s response to the recent Fire Safety consultation exercise, which will come into force as part of the legislation package in the Building Safety Bill. The measures will amend the Fire Safety Order


and will include a requirement for fire risk assessments to be recorded for each building and improve how fire safety information is handed over throughout the lifetime of a building. The Home Office has also announced a cash


boost of £10 million for Fire and Rescue Authorities across England, on top of the £6 million already announced in the Fire Covid-19 Contingency Fund. This will help with additional tasks related to managing the pandemic – such as driving ambulances and assisting at testing and vaccination centres. Making the announcement Fire Minister Lord


Greenhalgh said: “Everyone should be safe in the buildings where they live, stay or work. Our new measures will improve fire safety and help save lives, but will also take firm action against those who fail in their duty to keep people safe.”


SAFER BUILDINGS A PRIORITY Roy Wilsher, National Fire Chiefs Council Chair, said: “We welcome the Government’s response to its own fire safety consultation and the continued investment in fire and rescue services protection work. Ultimately, we want to see safer buildings for residents and are committed to working constructively with the Home Office and other partners on the Grenfell Tower Inquiry recommendations and other key fire safety policy areas.” According to the Home Office, the new measures will:


• improve the quality of fire risk assessments and competence of those who complete them;


• ensure vital fire safety information is preserved over the lifespan of all regulated buildings;


• improve co-operation and co-ordination among people responsible for fire safety and making it easier to identify who they are;


• strengthen enforcement action, with anyone impersonating or obstructing a fire inspector facing unlimited fines;


“We welcome the Government’s response to its own fire safety consultation and the continued investment in fire and rescue services protection work. Ultimately, we want to see safer buildings for residents and are committed to working constructively with the Home Office and other partners on the Grenfell Tower Inquiry recommendations and other key fire safety policy areas.” Roy Wilsher, National Fire Chiefs Council Chair


• strengthen guidance issued under the Fire Safety Order so that failure to follow it may be considered in court proceedings as evidence of a breach or of compliance;


• improve the engagement between Building Control Bodies and Fire Authorities in reviewing plans for building work; and


• require all new flats above 11 metres tall to install premises information boxes.


The Fire Safety Consultation took place last year to inform Government work on improving fire safety. The Government received feedback from over 250 stakeholders with an interest in building and fire safety, including residents, Responsible Persons and enforcing authorities, which have been used in formulating the new measures in response.


8 | HMM April/May 2021 | www.housingmmonline.co.uk The Government intends to launch a further


consultation on personal emergency evacuation plans this spring to seek additional views on implementing the relevant Grenfell Tower Inquiry recommendations. The Home Office intends, subject to the Fire


Safety Bill receiving Royal Assent, to lay regulations before the second anniversary of the Grenfell Inquiry Phase 1 Report which will deliver on the Inquiry’s recommendations. The Fire Safety Bill clarifies that the scope


of the Fire Safety Order (FSO) and changes to the FSO outline above will be delivered through it. The Building Safety Bill will create the first national Building Safety Regulator and overhaul the way buildings in scope of the new regime are designed, built and managed when occupied.


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