A major legal step forward in encouraging fire safety in large buildings and offices has been passed, as amendments to the Fire Safety Bill have been passed in a narrow voted in the House of Lords.
This provides more security to office leaseholders, as the costs of installing mandatory improvements to fire and security services can not legally be passed on to them unless the leaseholder also has ownership of the building.
This part of the Fire Safety Bill 2019-21 (also known as the Fire Safety Act 2020) comes into effect as soon as the bill is passed, which may be as early as the end of November.
The bill amends the Fire Safety Order 2005, primarily to ensure that building improvements to improve fire safety are implemented, and define in law the responsibility of the building owner for every part of the building not contained within the individually leased areas (flats or offices)
There are a number of particular facets to the order, but among other requirements, building owners are responsible for regularly inspecting and reporting the results of inspections to the fire and rescue service.
They are also responsible for creating and reviewing evacuation plans, providing understandable fire safety instructions and ensuring individual entrances are fit for purpose.
The peers voted 269-250 in favour of these amendments, as well as a fire safety certification system akin to the Energy Performance Certificate that prospective leaseholders could see before finalising any contract.