The Definitive Guide to the new Fire Safety Act

David Hills
Posted by David Hills on Nov 22, 2021 9:02:00 AM

After the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy of 2017 that claimed the lives of 72 people in North Kensington, West London, the Home Office set to amend the Fire Safety Act of 2005 to prevent similar occurrences in tall buildings.

Inquiries into the Grenfell Tower catastrophe revealed alarming details concerning fire risks management and fire safety responsibility in multi-occupied residential building settings.

In the aftermath of the tragedy, building safety has come under scrutiny. Consequently, the Fire Safety Act 2021, applicable in England and Wales, aims to ensure that people feel safe in their homes by providing new regulated and legislated guidance for tall building owners, managing real estate agents, and property developers.

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Our building safety experts at Ark have created the definitive guide to the new Fire Safety Act to help you stay compliant with the latest safety regulations.

Fire Safety Act: What’s new?

The UK Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government identified over 450+ potentially unsafe tall residential buildings in England with external cladding inhibiting fire spreading.

In April 2021, the new Fire Safety Act, which now includes cladding risk priority, became law in England and Wales.

It is worth noting that in comparison, the number of unsafe buildings in Scotland is considerably smaller.

The Fire Scotland Act 2005 and Fire Safety Scotland Regulations 2006 apply for tall buildings in the Scottish territory.

Similarly, the Fire Safety Regulations (Northern Irelands) 2010 regulates building in Northern Ireland.

The updated fire safety act clarifies the previous Fire Safety Order 2005 (FSO) and establishes maintenance responsibility in multi-occupied buildings.

According to the FSO, the duty holder must carry out an assessment of the fire risk to the people within the building or its proximity.

The Fire Safety Act 2021 expands the fire risk assessment to the structure, including:

  • cladding,
  • Insulations,
  • fixings,
  • doors,
  • windows,
  • balconies,
  • passages to common areas

The relevant responsible person must ensure the removal of identified fire hazards.

The act also gives fire and rescue authorities the power to enforce compliance and serve legal consequences for failure to remove risks.

Additionally, the changes outlined in the fire safety act also appear in the Building Safety Bill, presented in July 2021 to the Parliament.

The act also gives fire and rescue authorities the power to enforce compliance

The bill aims to determine fire safety accountability through construction to maintenance among property developers, builders, and managers.

What does the Fire Safety Act mean for existing buildings?

As mentioned, the new safety regulation addresses fire safety responsibilities, defining and enhancing the risk criteria within tall multi-occupied buildings.

The Fire Safety Act 2021 also mentions enforceable legal consequences, including prosecution and alteration of prohibition notices for the responsible person(s).

Therefore, we appreciate that you might be wondering who is responsible. The act focuses on those responsible for social housing and the management of tall residential buildings:

  • landlords,
  • leaseholders,
  • housing managers,
  • property managers, etc.

Fire and rescue authorities will be able to hold owners and managers to account.

How can the Building Safety Bill address fire safety issues?

While it has not yet become law, as of writing, the Building Safety Bill, will extend the responsibility of fire safety risks and assessments in tall buildings to the design, construction, and maintenance processes in England and Wales.

The bill currently proposes to drive improvements in building safety and performance through the creation of a Building Safety Regulator.

The Building Safety Regulator will be responsible for all safety and performance decisions during the construction and have the power to prosecute offences.

Additionally, the bill also introduces a responsible person who becomes legally responsible for the building safety when occupied.

How to remain compliant with safety regulations

The scope of responsibilities is increasing for tall buildings.

We appreciate that it can be challenging to keep on top of the current and future fire safety changes.

The scope of responsibilities is increasing for tall buildings.

Therefore, it would make sense for property owners, developers and managing agents to consider reliable and accurate strategies to comply with the Fire Safety Act 2021 and the new Building Safety regulations once the bill becomes law.

We appreciate that arranging fire safety assessments that comply with the new fire safety act can be confusing and overwhelming.

At Ark, the leading safety experts with over 25 years of experience, are committed to providing compliance and safety solutions.

We believe that technology will play a big role in compliance, which is why we have created QUOODA®, a software and analytics platform that lets you implement a digitally integrated approach to creating pathways to fire safety compliance.

QUOODA® helps you make sense of essential building risk and safety considerations, reducing administrative and resources burdens and human errors.


If you are confused about new fire safety assessments, don't hesitate and book a free consultation with one of our safety experts.

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