The Fire Safety Act 2021 and the Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 have made it clear that flat entrance doors must be considered in fire risk assessments and regularly checked to ensure that they are in good working order. This is important because fire doors play a vital role in preventing the spread of fire and smoke in a building, giving people more time to evacuate safely.
Residents in Apartments of Watford Housing were sent a letter which reads:
“Due to an update to the fire safety regulations it is now what the Community Housing duty to inspect the entrance door to your flat on an annual basis. This is a legal requirement for blocks exceeding 11 m in height to ensure the safety of yourself, your family, and your neighbours in the event of a fire.”
The inspection with incorporate the following checks:
- That the door incorporates intumescent strips and cold seals
- That the door fits well within its frame
- That the door/frame has not been tampered with (including removal/replacement of hardware)
- The the door/frame is not damaged
- That the self-closing mechanism is functioning correctly.
The new laws also impose new requirements on landlords and building managers to carry out regular fire risk assessments.
Section 156 of the Building Safety Act 2022 (BSA) makes a number of amendments to the FSO to improve fire safety. These include new legal requirements for all Responsible Persons to:
- record their fire risk assessment in full (previously only the significant findings needed to be recorded and only in specific circumstances);
- record the identity of the individual (their name and/or if applicable, their organisation) engaged by them to undertake and/or review a fire risk assessment;
- record their fire safety arrangements (demonstrating how fire safety is managed in their premises) record (and as necessary update) their contact information, including a UK based address, and share this with other Responsible Persons and residents of multi-occupied residential premises where applicable;
- take reasonably practicable steps to ascertain the existence of other Responsible Persons and, where applicable, Accountable Persons (a new legal entity made under the Building Safety Act 2022 in the case of higher-risk residential buildings) who share or have duties in respect of the same premises, and to identify themselves to said persons;
- share, when departing, all ‘relevant fire safety information’ with the incoming Responsible Person;
- provide residents, in a building containing two or more sets of domestic premises, with relevant fire safety information in a format that is easily understood by them.
If any faults are found with the flat entrance door, the assessor will recommend appropriate remedial action. This may involve repairs, such as replacing a broken self-closing device, or it may be necessary to replace the door entirely.
However, it is important to note that there is no requirement to replace a fire door simply because it does not meet the current standard under Building Regulations. If the door remains in full working order from a fire safety point of view, then it is not necessary to replace it.
The Grenfell Tower fire in 2017 was a devastating tragedy that claimed the lives of 72 people. It also exposed serious flaws in the fire safety regulations for flats in England.
In the wake of the fire, the government introduced a number of new laws to improve fire safety in flats. These laws include:
- The Building Safety Act 2022: This act creates a new building safety regulator and introduces new requirements for the design, construction, and maintenance of high-rise buildings.
- The Fire Safety Act 2021: This act clarifies the responsibilities of those responsible for fire safety in flats and other multi-occupied residential buildings.
- The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2022: These regulations require all homes in England to have at least one smoke alarm on each level and a carbon monoxide alarm in any room where there is a solid fuel burning appliance.
Here are some tips for staying safe in a flat:
- Make sure you have a working smoke alarm on each level of your flat.
- Test your smoke alarms regularly.
- Have a carbon monoxide alarm in any room where there is a solid fuel burning appliance.
- Make sure you know where the fire exits are in your building.
- Have a fire safety plan for your household and practice it regularly.
- Keep your flat clear of clutter and flammable materials.
- Never smoke in bed.