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New fire safety act prompts risk assessment review, Bureau Veritas tells duty holders

SAFETY and compliance expert, Bureau Veritas is encouraging landlords and duty holders to prepare for the Fire Safety Act 2021 which will make significant changes to fire safety regulation – describing the legislation as a new era for building safety.

Given Royal Assent on 29 April this year, the act will amend the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and aims to make it clearer where responsibility for fire safety lies. The new laws apply to buildings containing more than one home that are more than 18m or six/seven stories in height and seeks to respond to the outcomes of the Hackitt Review.

The Fire Safety Act 2021 clarifies that the responsible person or duty holder for multi-occupied, residential buildings must “manage and reduce the risk of fire” posed by the building’s structure, and most notably external wall systems, including windows and balconies, and individual occupants’ entrance doors. Under the clarification, fire and rescue services will be authorised to take enforcement action and hold building owners to account if they are not compliant.

This latest law follows on from various action already taken designed towards strengthening the whole regulatory system for building safety, including new sprinkler requirements and the forthcoming Building Safety Bill which was presented to Parliament on 5 July 2021.

John O’Sullivan MBE, technical Director – fire consultancy at Bureau Veritas, states: ‘The approval of the Fire Safety Act marks a significant step in the right direction to mitigate the fire risk in relation to life safety and building safety and is one of the biggest outcomes of the Grenfell Inquiry to date. Government is expected to release further guidance on the Act later this year, as there is further consultation currently taking place in relation to the stay put policy and evacuation procedures for high rise residential properties.’

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