The Building Safety Act and the FSO
The effect of the Building Safety Act 2022 (BSA 2022) has been to amend and change the Fire Safety Order (FSO).
How the FSO has changed
The changes to the FSO brought about by the BSA 2022 relate to:
- the recording of information by RPs
- sharing information, including where there are other RPs sharing the same premises
- the introduction of Accountable Persons and how RPs should work with them
- the duties of outgoing RPs and providing information to new RPs
- how premises with two or more sets of domestic premises are affected
Learn more about each of these changes below:
1. Recording information
As a result of the BSA 2022 Responsible Persons must now record:
- completed fire risk assessments in full
- the name and details of individuals and organisations engaged to carry out, or review, fire risk assessments
- fire safety arrangements, in order to show how fire safety is managed in the premises
- their (the RPs) contact information, updating it where necessary – this should include a UK based address
- share the contact information referred to above with other RPs and occupants of multi-occupied residential premises where applicable (see below 'Sharing information')
Further information about recording your fire risk assessment and other information
Your fire risk assessment must now be recorded in full and must include:
- all the findings – note: previously RPs were only required to record 'significant findings of the risk assessment'.
- fire safety arrangements in all circumstances for the premises you are RP for – note: there is now no limit on the circumstances in which RPs have to record the risk assessment and fire safety arrangements for their premises. The previous limitations (for example, information only required where there were five or more employees or there was a licensing or alterations note) no longer apply.
Employing a fire risk assessor to assist you
Where fire risk assessor is employed to assist you with the completion of a fire risk assessment, the following must be recorded:
- their name,
- where applicable their organisation name.
As an RP you are responsible for ensuring that your fire risk assessment is suitable and sufficient.
If you employ someone to do this for you, you should ensure they are competent to do so.
What does 'competent mean?
The Building Safety Act 2022 defines competent as:
'A person is to be regarded as competent ... where the person has sufficient training and experience or knowledge and other qualities to enable the person properly to assist in making or reviewing the assessment.'
Why this is needed
- to ensure there is a record for 'enforcing authorities' (such as KFRS) of who completed the assessment
- to enable sharing of the information with residents (where applicable) and RPs who undertake the role subsequently
It is your responsibility to make sure your fire risk assessment is (a) suitable, and (b) sufficient.
2. Sharing information
Where other RPs share the premises
In addition to the above, RPs must take ‘reasonably practicable steps’ to find out if there are other RPs (or Accountable persons - see below) who share or have duties for the same premises. RPs must therefore find out :
- who the other RPs are;
- who the Accountable Persons are (see below for further details of this new legal entity created by the BSA 2022 in relation to higher-risk residential premises)
- identify themselves to those other RPs and Accountable persons
Learn more from the drop-down information below. Please be aware that it is very important your fire risk assessment and resultant fire safety measures work together and in accordance with those for the rest of the building. This will assist in providing a 'whole building approach' to fire safety.
If you are an RP for a building containing two or more sets of domestic premises, you will also have a duty to share information with residents. For further details see section 5 below.
Working with other Responsible Persons
If there are other RPs in the premises, it is important they work together to ensure a 'cohesive approach to fire safety throughout the entire building'.
To achieve this, you should take all reasonably practicable steps to find out and identify if there are other RPs in your premises who have, or share, duties relating to it.
Example: RPs for a multi-occupancy commercial building may include those for other businesses. It may also include a landlord - and possibly a managing agent - who has '...overall responsibility for safety within the building'.
Upon identifying other RPs you should:
- provide them with your name (or the name of those acting on your behalf)
- obtain their name
- plus in both the above cases, a UK address from which you can receive notices and other documents
- each RP should inform the others in writing of the extent of their responsibilities under the FSO. (This information may be contained in a contract, or obtained via the building owner or manager.)
- record in writing the information you have provided and how it has been shared
- recording should be done in such a way that it can (a) be easily accessed and (b) acts as evidence of the information having been shared
- keep a record of the information you have provided regarding what your duties are for the premises
- let other Responsible Persons know if a new Responsible Person will be taking over your part of the premises, enabling them to provide the information referred to above to the incoming RP.
3. Accountable Persons (APs) - and how RPs should work with them
The role of 'accountable person' was created under Part 4 of the Building Safety Act.
An Accountable Person manages '... the fire and structural safety risks of a high-rise residential building'. They are '...an individual or organisation that owns or has a legal obligation to repair any common parts of the building' which can include corridors, staircases and the structure and exterior of the building.
Some buildings may have multiple APs, with one appointed as the 'principle accountable person'. In some cases, the principle AP may also be the RP.
Where the RP and AP are not the same person, '...building safety information must be shared across these roles and any information shared must meet data protection requirements'.
You can learn more about Accountable Persons by going to the Government Guidance: Safety in high rise residential buildings: accountable persons
How RPs should work with APs
(a) You must take 'reasonable steps' to identify the Accountable person (including any principle Accountable Person(s) in your premises if your premises are:
- at least 18 metres in height or have at least 7 storeys
- contain at least 2 residential units
(b) RPs should cooperate with APs - for example, by sharing the Fire Risk Assessment - so that APs can carry out their legal duties.
RPs and APs should both take a 'whole building approach' to the building and its fire safety.
4. The duties of outgoing RPs and providing information to new RPs
If an RP is leaving their post, they must share with the new, incoming RP all ‘relevant fire safety information’. This is to ensure there is a continuous record of the building's fire safety information. This situation may occur where, for example, a business ceases trading, is sold, or the freehold is sold, and a new RP takes over.
What information must be provided to new RPs
Government Guidance states: 'The existing RP must provide any new RP with relevant fire safety information, including:
- the fire risk assessment and review records (including any fire safety information provided by other Responsible Persons)
- the identity of any person who assisted with the fire risk assessment/review
- the name and UK address of any Responsible Person or any person acting on behalf of the Responsible Person who will accept notices or other documentation
- the identity of the Accountable Person, where known (if a higher risk residential building)
- any information given under regulation 38 of the Building Regulations 2010 (such as the information provided when a building is built or extended)
If you do not have contact details for the incoming Responsible Person you could ask the building owner or manager. If they do not have them or cannot provide them, you should provide all the required information to the building owner or manager so that they can forward this onto the incoming responsible person when this has been identified. You must make a written record that you have done this.
Where disputes are identified with any of the above cooperation duties that will compromise fire safety, in the first instance you should speak with the accountable people, landlord or freeholder. If this fails to resolve the problem, you should then contact the relevant enforcement authority.'
5. Buildings with two or more sets of domestic premises
The BSA22 makes changes to the duties of RPs who are responsible for buildings with two or more sets of domestic premises.The changes made are to help residents:
- feel safer
- understand what their RP is doing to comply with RP responsibilities.
Note: the information that RPs must make available to residents under the BSA22 is in addition to that already required by the Fire Safety Regulations.