London Fire Brigade has written to all major housing providers in the capital urging them to get plans in place ahead of new fire safety legislation coming into effect.
The Fire Safety Bill, clarifies that external walls fall under the fire safety regulations that the Brigade enforces in London under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. The Bill is currently going through Parliament and will become law once it completes the parliamentary process.
The letter sets out what the Brigade expects from housing providers, including actions they should be taking now to be ready for the new law.
The letter strongly advises building owners to consider the risks of any external wall systems and fire doors in their fire risk assessments, regardless of the height of the building. It also states that building owners should check that the external wall systems meet an acceptable standard of safety and do not contribute to the external spread of fire.
London Fire Commissioner Andy Roe said: “This legislation will make clear what fire and rescue services can enforce in purpose built blocks of flats and we will use our powers in full to protect people in their homes. We are writing to housing providers now to make sure they are ready and prepared so we can work together for the safety of Londoners.”
Alongside this, the Brigade has welcomed the launch of a consultation and the publication of a draft Building Safety Bill which set out plans to improve building and fire safety regulations, which includes the introduction of a Chief Inspector of buildings who will enforce the new rules and take strong actions against those who break them.
The review concluded the whole system needed major reform and residents’ safety must be a priority and the proposals announced by Government this week provide the biggest improvements to building safety in nearly 40 years.
The consultation is on proposals to strengthen the Fire Safety Order, implement Grenfell Tower Inquiry recommendations and strengthen the regulatory framework for how building control bodies consult with Fire and Rescue Authorities. It is open until October 2020.
Commissioner Roe added: “We have called on the Government to design a new building safety system to prevent tragedies, rather than react to them, so we welcome the publication of the draft Bill and the launch of the consultation.
“We are pleased to see the changes which have been laid out, particularly the introduction of a new regulator for building safety.
“Our city is unique in the complexity of its built environment in the UK with a higher proportion of private sector buildings, more complex ownership structures of buildings and buildings which are more likely to require more complex works – in fact 65 per cent of buildings that will be in the scope of the new regulator are in London.
“Along with our colleagues across the UK’s fire and rescue services, we will be closely examining these proposals and will submit a full and comprehensive response to the consultation.”
• The introduction of an “accountable person” who will be responsible for keeping residents safe in high-rise buildings and will have to listen and respond to residents’ concerns.
• Residents and leaseholders will have access to vital safety information about their building and new complaints handling requirements will be introduced.
• A new regulator for building safety within the Health and Safety Executive will ensure accountable persons are carrying out their duties properly. The regulator will enforce new rules and take strong actions against those who break them.
• The Government will have new powers to better regulate construction materials and products and ensure they are safe to use.