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Every block of flats needs regular fire safety risk assessments of the common areas, and it’s an obligation placed upon the freeholder as they own these areas. Fire Officers can enter any block of flats to inspect the building. They may ask to see the risk assessment and issue enforcement notices to improve fire safety if it’s needed. Failures may also lead to prosecution in the court.

Buildings Regulations Act 2010

The Buildings Regulations Act 2010 governs fire safety design in new blocks of flats. It does not introduce new standards or regulations, but builds on existing good practice and guidance currently in place.

Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety Order) (RRO) 2005

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order (RRO) 2005 requires a ‘responsible person’ to carry out, implement and maintain a fire safety risk assessment for the common/shared areas of blocks of flats. This is to ensure the safety of all residents, visitors or employees to the property. Fire Officers have the authority to enter and carry out inspections both to the exterior and internally for which the Fire Authorities have a statutory duty to ensure compliance.

The competent person should demonstrate knowledge of current best practice in the sector and be prepared to supplement gaps in training. Their appointment does not absolve the employer of his or her responsibilities under the legislation.

The assessment should be specific to the premises and if they are not carried out, or the recommendations from such assessments are not implemented, if a fire-related incident occurs, the consequences will determined by the courts. A fire safety risk assessment should include:

  1. Fire Prevention;
  2. Detection and Warning;
  3. Emergency Escape and Fire Fighting.
  4. Ignition sources and flammable materials;
  5. Fire-fighting equipment, i.e. extinguishers;
  6. Fire doors;
  7. Smoke detection;
  8. Escape routes and evacuation procedures.

The findings are to be recorded in the Safety Statement.

In addition to ensuring the safety of people, areas covered by a fire risk assessment will be required to check the following:

  1. Ignition sources and flammable materials;
  2. Fire-fighting equipment, i.e. extinguishers;
  3. Fire doors;
  4. Smoke detection;
  5. Escape routes and evacuation procedures.

Under s19 of the Act, (provision of information to employees) a ‘responsible person’ with sufficient training, experience and knowledge is required to carry out, implement and maintain a fire safety risk assessment for the common/shared areas of blocks of flats to ensure the safety of all residents, visitors or employees to the property. This is because the Health and Safety Executive view these areas as places of work in exactly the same way as commercial properties.

The assessment should be specific to the premises and if they are not carried out, or the recommendations from such assessments are not implemented, if a fire-related incident occurs, the consequences will determined by the courts. A fire safety risk assessment should include:

  1. Fire Prevention; Detection and Warning;
  2. Emergency Escape and Fire Fighting.
  3. Ignition sources and flammable materials;
  4. Fire-fighting equipment, i.e. extinguishers;
  5. Fire doors;
  6. Smoke detection;
  7. Escape routes and evacuation procedures.

The findings are to be recorded in the Safety Statement and Fire Officers have the authority to enter and carry out inspections to both to the exterior and internally as the Fire Authorities have a statutory duty to ensure compliance.

The competent person should demonstrate knowledge of current best practice in the sector and be prepared to supplement gaps in training. The appointment of a competent person does not absolve the employer of his or her responsibilities under the legislation.

The Act also clarifies under s12 (elimination or reduction of risks from dangerous substances) that consideration must also be given to the safety of persons other than employees within the workplace. Everything reasonably practical must be done to ensure that all individuals at the place of work are not exposed to risks to their safety and health. Further obligations come under s15 (procedures for serious and imminent danger and for danger areas).

On 1st Oct 2015 the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 came into force. From that date, private rented sector landlords are required to have at least one smoke alarm installed on every floor of their properties on which there is a room. This is regardless of whether it is used wholly or partly as living accommodation and this includes a bathroom or toilet. Guidance issued by Government is to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and that they should usually be fitted to the ceiling in a circulation space – i.e. on a landing or in a hallway.

The alarms must be in working order on the start date of a new tenancy even if the tenant moves in a bit later.

 

 

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