Much has been said on the subject of Fire Safety of late and we all agree its importance - but do we know precisely what the law is, who enforces it, where to get guidance, who is responsible, how to do a fire risk assessment or what is required in terms of alarms and detectors?
Two key points you need to understand - firstly LACORS is just a guide and it has not been updated for nearly a decade since the group which wrote it was dissolved. Secondly, HHSRS is pretty subjective even on a good day and these two resources form the basis of all Fire Safety activity - so the onus is really on you to ensure you have minimised the risk of fire and maximised the likelihood of survival for your tenants. Now read on for our quick guide on the topic, pulled together for us by ex-chair Julian Clokie….
There are 3 key principles: Is the likelihood of a fire minimised, is there proper warning should a fire occur and can escape be achieved.
The legal framework which defines our obligations in meeting these principles is complex and spread across a number of statutes and other legal instruments including:
1)Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) order 2005 [The Fire order 2005]
2)Housing Act 2004,
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2004/34/contents defined in chap 1 and 2 see guidance in HHSRS scheme https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/15810/142631.pdf see annex D page 150
3) The Smoke and Carbon monoxide alarm (England) regulations 2015 http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukdsi/2015/9780111133439/contents
4)Building regulations See https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/fire-safety-approved-document-b
5)The common law wrt duty of care.
These rules and regulations are monitored and enforced by:
But who takes precedence or responsibility? As a general rule larger properties are managed and enforced by the fire service and EHO focus on the smaller properties (eg up to 3 storey bedsits)
It is also important for us as landlords to fully understand when we are responsible and for what it is that we are responsible. According to Fire order (2005) in this Order "responsible person" meansâ€”
(a)in relation to a workplace, the employer, if the workplace is to any extent under his control;
(b)in relation to any premises not falling within paragraph (a)â€”
(i)the person who has control of the premises (as occupier or otherwise) in connection with the carrying on by him of a trade, business or other undertaking (for profit or not); or
(ii)the owner, where the person in control of the premises does not have control in connection with the carrying on by that person of a trade, business or other undertaking.
So for a private dwelling - assume you as landlord are responsible and you will not go far wrong.
Carrying out a Fire Risk Assessment may sound like something you need a specialist for, but in reality it is just common sense. There are 5 steps in a Fire Risk Assessment according to Lacors:
We probably all do steps 1 to 3 in our normal operation, but it is worth documenting that it has been done (point 4) to ensure we can show we have met our obligations and also, to give us a basis against which to review (point 5).
No regularity is defined but we would suggest always review between tenants, review annually if you have long term tenancies and additionally review after any significant alterations or building works in the property.
Fire alarms systems are defined in LACORS guide page 24 et seq ranging from Grades A to F fire alarm systems (Automatic Fire detection systems)
Fire alarm detectors come in 3 types,
Using either data transmission or an attribute sent to control unit.
Electricity provided by mains, zinc batteries or Alkaline Sr electrolyte etc rechargeable
Table C4 Lacors defining which alarms for what
|Single household occupancy up to four storeys||Grade D: LD3 coverage (interlinked)|
|Single household occupancy five or six storeys||Grade A: LD3 coverage|
Shared house HMO of up to two storeys (shared
|Grade D: LD3|
|and so on to …………|
Three- to six-storey house converted to selfcontained flats (prior to Building Regulations 1991, approved document B standard)
For further information and guidance:
Guidance to owners 1) Basic resume from RLA see https://www.rla.org.uk/landlord/guides/housing_act/firesafety.shtml
2) LACORS guidance
3) LACORS update
The 2015 regs state that an alarm that is working on the first day of a tenancy must be installed on each floor of any let building if the floor is used for residential purposes.
HMO specific guides. See above
Building regulations. See above
Written & oral information and advice from the Portsmouth & District Private Landlord's Association is given in good faith, but no responsibility whatsoever is accepted by the Association or it's officers for the accuracy of it's information & advice nor shall the Association be held responsible for the consequences of reliance upon such information.