Fire Safety Guide for Small Blocks of Flats: Key Takeaways
The Welsh Government has recently issued a comprehensive guide to enhancing fire safety in small blocks of flats titled "A guide to making your small block of flats safe from fire". This guide is a companion to the previously issued document titled "Fire Safety in Purpose-Built Blocks of Flats", published by the Home Office in 2021.
Purpose of this Guide
The guide is devised to support the application of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, focusing on the common parts of small blocks of flats, the building's structure, external walls, and the doors between the flats and common parts. The application is limited to three-storey buildings, including maisonettes and walk-up apartments.
The additional recommendations provided in Section 6 exceed the scope of the fire safety legislation and target fire safety within a resident's individual flat.
Responsibility for Compliance
The guide primarily offers guidance and recommendations. However, the responsibility to ensure compliance with the requirements set out in the fire safety legislation rests solely with the building owners and managers. It may be necessary to seek independent legal advice to ensure compliance.
Who Does it Apply to?
The guide is intended for a variety of stakeholders:
- Social housing providers
- Private-sector landlords
- Resident management companies
- Right to manage companies
- Managing agents
These stakeholders are responsible for complying with the fire safety legislation, ensuring the safety of the building's structure, external walls, and all doors between the flats and common parts1.
Fire Safety Legislation
The legislation does not apply to the individual flats; fire safety within individual apartments falls under the Housing Act 2004.
The guide also emphasises that individual leaseholders must ensure that the fire performance of their flat entrance doors is adequate, provided their lease makes them responsible for the maintenance or repair of these doors.
Enforcement and Audits
The fire and rescue service within a locality is typically responsible for enforcing fire safety legislation and may conduct audits of the common parts to determine compliance with the legislation.
The guide is restricted to small blocks of flats that:
- Were constructed as a purpose-built block of flats; or
- Were converted into a block of flats under the 1991, or later, versions of the Building Regulations; and
- Were designed, constructed, or converted on a 'stay put' strategy.
The guide only applies to three-storey blocks containing at most six flats. The blocks may additionally incorporate lower ground floor flats, given they have direct open-air entrances.
This guide is not suitable if:
- Your block falls outside the scope described above; or
- The design of fire precautions in your block significantly differs from this guide's recommendations.
In such situations, you should base your fire precautions and risk assessment on the guidance in "Fire Safety in Purpose-Built Blocks of Flats".
This includes communal lobbies, corridors and stairways, flat entrance doors and anything attached to external walls, such as balconies. ↩︎
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