The Fire Safety Bill 2019-21 was announced in the Queen’s Speech on 19 December 2019. Second Reading of the Bill is scheduled to take place on 29 April 2020.

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The Fire Safety Bill amends the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and is expected to result in greater clarity over responsibility for fire safety in buildings containing more than one home.

Following the Grenfell Fire in 2017 the Government have taken a number of steps around fire safety, and this Bill forms part of that response. It is part of a series of changes by the Government to both fire safety and building safety more generally, with further primary and secondary legislation to follow.

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 consolidated a number of different pieces of fire legislation. It applies to all non-domestic premises, including communal areas of residential buildings with multiple homes. The Order designates those in control of premises as the responsible person for fire safety and they have a duty to undertake assessments and manage risks. The Order is enforced by Fire and Rescue Authorities.

The Bill clarifies that for any building containing two or more sets of domestic premises the Order applies to the building’s structure and external walls and any common parts, including the front doors of residential parts. It also clarifies that external walls in the order include “doors or windows in those walls” and “anything attached to the exterior of those walls (including balconies).” These amendments are expected to provide for increased enforcement action in these areas, particularly where remediation of aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding is not taking place.

This Bill extends and applies to England and Wales. Separate fire safety legislation is in place in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Fire Safety is devolved in Wales but the Bill amends the shared legislation, with the same delegated powers applying to English and Welsh Ministers.

The Bill also provides English and Welsh Ministers with a regulation making power to amend the type of buildings the order applies to in the future.

The Bill has been welcomed, with public and industry bodies noting the expected increase in enforcement action by Fire and Rescue Authorities as a result of the Bill’s clarifications, as well as an expectation that it will impose greater burdens on the responsible person in multi-occupancy residential buildings.

 

Help for Members of Parliament and their staff  

In addition to writing and updating published papers as bills go through Parliament, the House of Commons Library can assist Members of Parliament and their staff with individual enquiries about bills, particularly on the policy background.  

The Public Bill Office (PBO) supports public bill committees. The staff working in the PBO can advise Members of Parliament on tabling amendments to bills and on the drafting of Private Members’ Bills. 

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