Nearly six years from Grenfell, the landscape has certainly started to change. The Government has introduced new statute, made amendments to existing statute, launched funds, brought responsible parties to the table and signed up nearly fifty of the largest developers to put right the wrongs of the past. I could fill several pages providing commentary and advice on the multiple aspects of the fire safety landscape as it exists in 2023, but for the purposes of this editorial, I will consider just three areas, set against the backdrop of the Building Safety Act 2022 (BSA).
A is for Accountable Person
An AP is a new role under the BSA. An AP is required to be appointed for all occupied high-risk buildings (a building with a storey height of at least 18 metres). Section (72) of the BSA provides clarity that the AP can be an individual, organisation or business. The AP has a duty to take all reasonable steps to prevent a building safety risk from occurring and to reduce the seriousness should one happen. In short, the AP has the following broad responsibilities:
- Ensure the building is registered with the Building Safety Regulator (deadline: 23 October 2023)
- Ensure a Building Safety Case is prepared
- Ensure effective resident engagement and communication
Where there is more than one AP (such as a board of directors) a Principal Accountable Person (PAP) needs to be appointed. Failure to carry out AP and PAP responsibilities could lead to both being criminally liable.
B is for Building Safety Case
The Building Safety Case (BSC) is primarily the culmination and drawing together of key records and methodologies that will ensure a building is kept safe. All occupied buildings in scope will require a BSC and will need to include:
- An explanation as to how a building operator is keeping the building safe
- Evidence why measures taken are effective in preventing & limiting consequences of a major incident
- Evidence of robust management regime and systems
- Assessment of the potential for major accident hazard
- A Building Safety Case Report (BSCR)must be prepared and should cover:
- Clear description of the building
- Consideration of the effect of major accidents involving fire spread and structural safety
- Describe measures in place to prevent major fire or structural accidents
- How the impact on people (when things go wrong) has been minimised
- Set out how measures will work when called for
- Ensure measures and safety systems are sufficient to ensure the safety of residents/building users from major accident hazards
- Consider whether any additional measures are required
- Ensure any modifications to the building are considered, particularly their potential impact on fire and structural safety
The preparation of a BSCR requires clarity of thought, accuracy and attention to detail and will require regular review and updating and will form a critical pillar of a building’s registration with the Building Safety Regulator.
C is for Culture & Competence
The Hackett Review, post Grenfell, identified four key findings:
- Ignorance/misunderstanding of regulations and standards
- Indifference to Safety
- Lack of clarity on roles and responsibilities
- Lack of regulatory oversite/enforcement
A cultural shift was necessary built on mindset and competence.
Competence and culture go hand in hand. You can’t have one without the other. The changes in statute, regulations, best practice and standards now provide a much more robust framework. It follows that the culture and competence of those delivering the services and providing you and your clients with advice should be nothing short of A1.
Shaun Harris, Founder and Managing Director, Harris Associates