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Government announces unlimited fines for breaches to fire safety

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 became law in October 2006 and changed the way that the fire safety of buildings is managed and enforced. Since October 2006, every company in England and Wales has been under a duty to undertake a risk assessment to ensure compliance with Fire Safety Regulations in accordance with the Order. Breaches of the order can result in significant fines, custodial sentences and serious damage to reputation.

The Government has recently announced new measures to enhance building safety as part of the government’s response to the Fire Safety Consultation, which will come into force as part of the legislation in the Building Safety Bill. The Bill's aim is to strengthen fire safety and includes unlimited fines which could be handed out to business owners who breach fire safety regulations under the Fire Safety Order. Also, unlimited fines will be handed out to anyone caught obstructing or impersonating a fire inspector as well as to those who breach fire safety regulations.

What's changed?

The measures will amend the Fire Safety Order and will include a requirement for fire risk assessments to be recorded for each building and improve how fire safety information is handed over throughout the lifetime of a building.

These new measures also aim to improve the quality of fire risk assessments and competence of those who undertake them and ensure vital fire safety information is preserved over the lifespan of all regulated buildings.
They will also make it easier to identify and coordinate with people responsible for fire safety.

The aim of the new measures are:

  • Improve the quality of fire risk assessments and competence of those who undertake them

  • Ensure vital fire safety information is preserved over the lifespan of all regulated buildings

  • Improve cooperation and coordination amongst people responsible for fire safety and to make it easier to identify who they are

  • Strengthen enforcement action, with anyone impersonating or obstructing a fire inspector facing unlimited fines

  • Strengthen guidance issued under the Fire Safety Order so that failure to follow it may be considered in court proceedings as evidence of a breach or of compliance

  • Improve the engagement between Building Control Bodies and Fire Authorities in reviewing plans for building work

  • All new apartments over 11 metres high are required to install premises information boxes.

The Home Office intends, subject to the Fire Safety Bill being passed by the House of Lords, to lay regulations before the second anniversary of the Grenfell Inquiry Phase 1 Report which will deliver on the Inquiry’s recommendations.

The Fire Safety Bill will clarify the scope and changes to the Fire Safety Order (FSO) outlined above will be delivered through it. The Building Safety Bill will create the first national Building Safety Regulator and overhaul the way buildings in scope of the new regime are designed.