How Fire Safety Standards are currently Set, Implemented, and Enforced in Residential Accommodation: The aftermath of Grenfell Tower

by Jan 8, 2018Environment, Safety & Standards, Occasional reports, Regulation & Enforcement, Reports

This report sets out how fire safety standards are set, implemented (i.e. complied with) and enforced in mainstream residential accommodation across all tenures, with a particular focus on the private rented sector. There are various legislative codes applicable, depending on the type of property, but only one, the provisions of Part 1 of the Housing Act 2004 in combination with the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) is universal.

This report demonstrates the overlaps and gaps but, above all, the sheer complexity surrounding both the legislative codes and the guidance. There is then the issue of local guidance which is of different coverage and quality, adding to the confusion. The report points out that risk assessments are only legally required in certain parts of certain types of buildings. HMO licensing is an added layer where it applies. All of this in the context of the violent swing which took place when responsibility for commercial premises was transferred to individual building controllers away from the Fire Service. Two parallel legislative codes were introduced at that time, and effectively it was a case that “never should the twain meet”. They were developed in parallel, and the only links are certain obligations of consultation between the respective enforcement authorities, local authorities and fire and rescue services. Building control is an important component but only applicable when buildings are constructed or subsequently modified. The tragic circumstances of Grenfell Tower have now raised a need to revisit and re-evaluate this whole edifice with a view to simplification as well as better implementation and enforcement.