Last month the interim report of Dame Hackitt’s review of Fire Safety and Building Regulations following the devastating fire at Grenfell Tower was published. The final report is expected in April this year.
The report is particularly focused on high rise and complex residential buildings and specifically discusses the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and the Housing Act 2004, in particular the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (England) Regulations (HHSRS) 2005. It is due to this focus that we have decided to discuss the report and how it may impact our readers.
Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005
Pursuant to this Order a ‘responsible person’ is required to carry out and review, a fire risk assessment of the premises. When carrying out these duties the ‘responsible person’ is assessing whether the fire safety measures in the common parts are suitable and sufficient to minimise fire and where necessary to implement improved measures. This measure is therefore largely self -regulatory with enforcement carried out by local fire and rescue services.
In contrast the HHSRS system is reactionary which assesses likely harm to tenants over 29 specifically identified hazards including one for fire. Enforcement is carried out by the local authority who will require landlords (mostly in the private sector) to improve standards and remove any identified hazards. The HHSRS will not only consider the common parts but also the actual living accommodation.
Findings of the Report in respect of the legislation identified above.
The current framework to ensure compliance with fire safety requirements overlaps in areas. However, there are also areas where there is confusion over who bears the responsibility to ensure fire safety and with whom the power lies to enforce compliance. The report also identifies that pursuant to the 2005 Order there could be a situation where there are multiple ‘responsible persons’ responsible for ensuring fire safety with no checks on whether they are competent to carry out the responsibilities. Finally, a shortage of fire and rescue service resources also impacts on the fire safety enforcement leaving a great hole in the fire safety measures that should be in place.
The overlap between the legislation can make it challenging to ensure measures are in place for fire safety. So, it does appear that the system for fire safety may change which may then impact the HHSRS as we know it. Once the final report is published we will update this post however, it is likely that some changes will be made quickly with some transitioned over a period of time.