IFSJ Exclusive: Safeguarding fire risk assessment with NSI

Share this content


John Davidson, Approval Schemes Manager at the National Security Inspectorate (NSI), explains the increasing importance of competent fire risk assessments

In addition to the UK Government’s response to the post-Grenfell Hackitt review of building regulations and fire safety, a number of recommendations within the Grenfell Tower Inquiry’s Phase 1 report have now been implemented in the Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 – which took effect from 23rd January 2023.

For high-rise residential buildings (at least 18m in height, or seven or more storeys) these Regulations require ‘Responsible Persons’ to take on additional mandatory duties. At multi-occupied residential buildings over 11m high, Responsible Persons across England must also ensure quarterly checks on all communal fire doors and annual inspections of flat entrance doors.

Fire risk assessment responsibilities

Legislation across the UK requires a ‘life safety fire risk assessment’ (LSFRA) to be carried out in almost all non-domestic premises and in a number of multiple occupancy residential buildings, including those converted into individual flats and Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs).  

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 in England and Wales, Fire Scotland Act 2005 and the Fire & Rescue Services (Northern Ireland) Order 2006/Fire Safety Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2010, passed responsibility for fire safety in a building from the Fire and Rescue Service to the ‘Duty Holder’ (sometimes called ‘Responsible Person’).

In the event of a fire, especially if death or serious injury has occurred, the relevant Fire and Rescue Service will investigate and, where offences may have been committed, prosecution can follow.  For example, a company and director operating a petrol station in Lanner, Cornwall, paid £108,028 in fines and costs at Exeter Magistrates’ Court in February 2023 after pleading guilty to five offences under the Fire Safety Order.

Legislation changes 

Recent amendments to the Fire Safety Order by the Building Safety Act 2022, due to take effect in autumn 2023, will require the Responsible Person to record their fire risk assessment in full (not just the significant findings).

In practice, the Duty Holder/Responsible Person may be one of a number of possible persons, e.g. the contracted residential managing agent for a block of flats, tasked with ensuring people and premises are kept safe. In reality, any freeholders’ company director(s) will also ultimately be responsible in law.

Where five or more persons are “employed” at a premises the results of the life safety fire risk assessment (LSFRA) must be documented and legislation requires that all LSFRAs are periodically reviewed to ensure they remain valid, for example when a change of use is effected. 

Reassuring competence

UKAS (United Kingdom Accreditation Service)-accredited Third Party Certificated providers, who are independently assessed, can provide significant reassurance for those tasked with managing buildings. 

Where life safety fire risk assessment is required by national legislation it underpins fire safety arrangements across the board. By choosing NSI approved companies holding approval to the BAFE Life Safety Fire Risk Assessment Scheme SP205, who clearly demonstrate their commitment to required legislation and insurance stipulations Responsible Person(s) can be assured they have effectively discharged their legal obligations, safeguarding and protecting all those who live and work in residential buildings and commercial premises. 

This exclusive article was originally published in the May 2023 issue of International Fire & Safety Journal. To read your FREE digital copy, click here.

Receive the latest breaking news straight to your inbox