Fire Safety Act 2021 FAQs

What does the Fire Safety Act do?

The Act clarifies that where a building contains two or more sets of domestic premises, the Fire Safety Order applies to: 

  • the building’s structure and external walls (including windows, balconies, cladding, insulation and fixings) and any common parts 
  • all doors between domestic premises and common parts, such as flat entrance doors (or any other relevant door) 

Which parts of the UK does the Act apply to? 

The Act applies to England and Wales. 

Information on how the Act applies within Wales can be found on the Welsh Government website.

What is the Fire Risk Assessment Prioritisation Tool?

The PPRU has supported the Home Office Task and Finish Group in the production of a new Fire Risk Assessment Prioritisation Tool (FRAPT).  The FRAPT is an online tool designed to assist responsible persons to develop a strategy to prioritise their buildings to review their fire risk assessments, to ensure they take into account the clarifications outlined in the Act.  

The Fire Risk Assessment Prioritisation Tool is available within the Fire Safety commencement prioritisation guidance here.

This approach is also designed to ensure that competent professionals who have the required skills to assess external walls (such as fire engineers, fire risk assessors, surveyors, or architects) prioritise their resources to buildings identified as high priority.   

The Fire Risk Assessment Prioritisation Tool does not constitute a fire risk assessment in itself, nor does it remove the need or requirement for both FRSs and RPs to act upon known or suspected risk in all premises. 

What do fire and rescue services need to do now?

FRSs will need to make themselves and staff familiar with The Fire Safety Act 2021 and its implications. FRSs will need to be aware that the Act will have implications for audit, inspection, and enforcement activity of residential buildings under the FSO. Some FRSs may have already considered changes to their audit methodology to take account of these changes. If not, it is necessary for FRSs to evaluate the need for this now.   

FRSs should be ready to provide advice to assist RPs in understanding and complying with their duties.  

What do responsible persons (RPs) need to do now?

RPs need to start planning now to be prepared for the changes. The PPRU is working with the Home Office to support the development of standard templates to assist both RPs and FRSs to ensure consistent and useful information is collected and received.  

RPs are encouraged to: 

  • Begin to use the Fire Risk Assessment Prioritisation Tool (the FRAPT), to start forming their fire risk assessment review prioritisation strategies. RPs should first consider the accompanying guidance. RPs should ensure their reviewed assessments take into account the requirements of the FSO (as amended).  
  • Consider what steps are necessary to be ready to share additional information with FRSs by winter 2022/23 
  • RPs are advised not to begin submitting their information to FRSs at this stage, unless this has already been agreed with their local FRS.  
  • The preferred format for how RPs provide information to FRSs will be detailed within the Home Office guidance, which is currently being produced. The guidance will be consulted on in summer 2022 in advance of the Regulations being fully in force on 23 January 2023. 
  • In preparation, RPs are encouraged to begin preparing to comply with the new Regulations. For example, RPs can begin work now on some aspects, e.g. installation of way finding signage, and procurement of secure information boxes. 

When will the changes take effect?

The FSA commenced on 16 May 2022. This means that RPs should now (if they have not already done so) consider when to review their fire risk assessments, to ensure these take account of any risk from the external wall. It is important that RPs are directed to, and consider, the more detailed guidance from the Home Office about when and how to go about this. 

A new Fire Risk Assessment Prioritisation Tool has been made available. The prioritisation tool is an online tool designed to support Responsible Persons to develop a prioritisation strategy for updating their fire risk assessments, following commencement. The prioritisation tool can be accessed within the Fire Safety commencement prioritisation guidance here.

Where can I find out more information?

The Fire Safety Act can be found here on the UK Government website.   

The Home Office has produced a series of fact sheets which provide more detailed information on what the changes mean in England, which are available on the UK Government website:

  • Overview Fact Sheet 
  • Secure Information Box Fact Sheet 
  • Design and Materials of External Walls Fact Sheet 
  • Floor Plans and Building Plan Fact Sheet 
  • Lifts and Essential Fire-fighting Equipment Fact Sheet 
  • Way finding Signage Face Sheet 
  • Information to Residents Fact Sheet 
  • Fire Doors Fact Sheet 

Information on how the Act applies within Wales can be found on the Welsh Government website.  

The PPRU has developed a helpful ‘Toolkit for Inspecting and Enforcing High-rise Residential Buildings’, for FRSs. You can access these on the SharePoint behind the Protection Workplace page. An update of this guide now that the Regulations have been brought forward is being finalised, and NFCC hope to provide this to FRSs shortly. 

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