Your maintenance responsibilities are changing. The recent amendments to the fire safety regulations since the Grenfell fire in 2017 have affected the responsibilities of the ‘Responsible Person’ in the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (RRO).
As of 23 January 2023, there will be additional duties that you will have to carry out if you own or manage a building with smoke control systems, particularly if it is a high risk or high rise residential building (a multi-occupied residential building at least 18 metres in height or 7 or more storeys). In this blog, we will cover what those changes specific to smoke control systems look like and how Colt can help you stay safe and legal. Changes in other aspects of fire safety also apply, but are not covered in this blog. For the full list of updates, you can find more information here: Check your fire safety responsibilities under the Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).
The latest updates specify that in addition to the existing daily, weekly, quarterly, 6-monthly and annual maintenance duties that the ‘Responsible Person’ must carry out, monthly checks of smoke control systems are now also required. The official guidance on what needs to be checked at these monthly tests state that:
‘At these monthly checks, typically all that will be required is a test to ensure that the smoke control system is capable of responding to a signal from any associated fire detection and fire alarm system. Additionally, it should respond to operation of any manual control provided for use by the fire and rescue service. Similarly, in the case of fire doors that are normally held open, but close automatically on operation of a fire detection system (which are not common in blocks of flats), the monthly check will simply confirm that the doors do close on operation of the system.’
In addition to carrying out these new monthly checks, the new regulations also specify that records must be kept of these checks and their outcomes and that these records must be made accessible to the building residents.
The guidance goes on to say that ‘if any of these checks reveal a fault in one of the above systems or equipment, you (the ‘Responsible Person) must take steps to rectify the fault. If the fault cannot be rectified within 24 hours of its discovery, you must, as soon as is reasonably practicable, notify the local fire and rescue service by electronic means. You must also notify them by electronic means when the fault has been rectified.’
The National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) are currently in the process of updating their websites and you will soon be able to submit information directly to them with regards to any faults. You can find more information here: Information sharing with fire and rescue services (nationalfirechiefs.org.uk)
Smoke ventilation is a key part of a building’s fire safety systems and the failure to maintain them is not only illegal and irresponsible, a failure of the smoke control system could hamper evacuation and in a worst case scenario lead to injury or death if a fire should occur. If you manage or own a building where these systems are installed it is simply too risky to avoid or delay regular maintenance or repairs, even more so with the increasingly stringent regulations being put in place around competence.
The introduction of the Fire Safety Act in 2021 and Building Safety Bill 2022 places the onus for building safety squarely on the shoulders of those responsible for the building’s design, build and maintenance – if something should go wrong and it is found to be because of a lack of competent workmanship, reporting or care, the consequences for those responsible could be life-changing.
As Northern Ireland's smoke control specialists, our team of engineers constantly receive regulatory and product training updates. If they see something that’s not right, they’ll tell you - you don’t need to ask. We are Northern Ireland’s sole distributor for Colt smoke control equipment, and work closely with their team on all relevant updates.
If you would like to talk to us about how we can help you fulfil your weekly, monthly and annual smoke control maintenance tasks, talk to our friendly team today to book a consultation.