New guidance on lead enforcement responsibility for fire safety in purpose built blocks of flats

Monday, February 21st, 2022 - Chartered Institute of Environmental Health

CIEH Principles of fire safety guidance

New guidance has been published to help assess whether Local Housing Authorities (LHAs) or Fire and Rescue Authorities (FRAs) should take lead enforcement responsibility for fire safety in purpose built blocks of flats.

The guidance, published in January 2022, has been developed jointly by the Local Government Association, National Fire Chiefs Council and the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health.

It builds on the protocol between LHA and FRAs that was published in the 2008 LACORS national fire safety guidance (read here).

The new guidance sets out principles to help effectively regulate fire safety in purpose built blocks of flats. It recognises the overlapping statutory duties on LHAs under the Housing Act 2004 and FRAs under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

The guidance contains a useful checklist to help enforcing authorities decide who should take the fire safety enforcement lead.

For example, in council owned blocks of flats and blocks containing a significant number of short-term serviced apartments, it recommends that FRAs take the enforcement lead.

Where there are concerns about lack of smoke detection within individual flats in the block, it recommends that LHAs take the enforcement lead.

In many cases, both enforcement agencies have the power to act. Applying the principles in the guidance will help determine who is best placed to take the lead, whilst maintaining tactical and strategic level consultation arrangements.

Tamara Sandoul, Policy and Campaigns Manager at CIEH said:

The Local Government Association, Chartered Institute of Environmental Health and the National Fire Chiefs Council have worked together to produce a high level guide to encourage Local authorities and fire and rescue services to work more closely together on the regulation of high rise buildings.

LAs and FRS have different powers when it comes to fire safety in tall buildings. The Protocol is intended to help with decisions on the most appropriate and effective enforcement action, considering the powers and limitations of both regulators.

The Protocol was published ahead of the commencement of the Fire Safety Act 2021, which will clarify powers of Fire and Rescue Services, especially when it comes to external cladding systems.

A copy of the guidance is available here.

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