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Property managers face new wave of fire safety rules, White Paper reveals

In addition to last year's Fire Safety Act, the government is to introduce more regulations to make high-rise blocks safer to live in.

Nigel Lewis

fire safety

The Home Office has laid out its plans for a post-Grenfell fire safety landscape after Priti Patel this morning launched her department’s Fire Reform White Paper.

It is a mixed bag of already-enacted regulations following the Grenfell fire, new initiatives taken from advice within several independent reports, and a new Act.

And although the White Paper covers a wide range of areas including the fire services, it will also involve property managers.

Sean Hooker image“The new fire safety regulations will have a huge impact on property managers and although many have been preparing for the changes, a good number are not ready or have yet to even start their preparations,” says Sean Hooker of the PRS (pictured).

“Hopefully this White Paper process, which outlines the relationship between the property management sector and the emergency services, will help the smooth implementation of the new regime.

“I urge all agents to engage with the consultation but more importantly get up to speed with the new rules and obligations.

“Ignoring these changes will lead to claims for redress and in the extreme cases a criminal prosecution – so do not take these responsibilities lightly.”

Unusual

Patel’s White Paper is unusual because includes recently-enacted rules, looming new ones as well as a 10-week public consultation on its proposed changes.

These include the commencement of the Fire Safety Act 2021 which will make sure all blocks of flats are properly assessed for fire safety risks, and the Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 which will help ensure people feel safe in their homes through improved fire safety within offices and homes.

These legislative changes pave the way for meeting many of the remaining Grenfell Tower Inquiry recommendations and are designed to deliver fire safety improvements in multi-occupied residential building.

High-rise

This includes ensuring that fire and rescue services have the information they need to plan their response to a fire in a high-rise building and imposing a minimum frequency for checks on all fire doors in mid and high-rise blocks of flats.

Additionally, the government has responded to the Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans consultation and has launched a new consultation on its alternative package of proposals to support the fire safety of residents whose ability to self-evacuate may be compromised.

This includes “Emergency Evacuation Information Sharing” which would require designated “Responsible Persons” of the highest risk buildings to assess the needs of their most vulnerable residents and consider what might reasonably be done to mitigate any risks to fire safety and tell local services where these residents live within the building.

The Neg has approached the IRPM/ARMA for comment on the proposals, but the recently united organisations will only comment publicly ‘once the full details are published’.

May 18, 2022

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