The Fire Safety Bill, Committee stage, House of Commons, 25 June 2020

We welcome the introduction of the Fire Safety Bill (FSB) and hope it will be an important step in the right direction. We are concerned about some of the practicalities of the Bill, how it aligns with the building safety proposals the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) is preparing, and the costs it may impose on councils and other building owners.


Key messages

  • The LGA has been calling for councils and fire services to be given effective powers and meaningful sanctions to ensure residents are safe – and feel safe – in their homes.
  • We welcome the introduction of the Fire Safety Bill (FSB) and hope it will be an important step in the right direction. We are concerned about some of the practicalities of the Bill, how it aligns with the building safety proposals the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) is preparing, and the costs it may impose on councils and other building owners.
  • The Government needs to ensure that there are enough trained professionals to carry out the new-style fire risk assessments. There is a chronic shortage of fire engineering expertise in the UK at present. The Government needs to act now to set up degree, conversion and apprenticeship schemes to address this – without more fire engineers the FSB may fail.
  • Councils would also like government to clarify if existing fire risk assessments are still valid. There are half a million fire risk assessments in social housing and redoing them all in short order would be very expensive and logistically challenging. We understand this is not the Government’s intention, but it would reassure councils if that was stated in Parliament.
  • To ensure the legislation is successful in protecting lives, national government must ensure that local government is reimbursed for any additional costs arising out of the operational changes mandated by this Bill.
  • The Government needs to provide an assurance that when the Building Safety Bill (BSB) is introduced it will be fully aligned with the amended Fire Safety Order to create a workable building safety system. At present we are concerned that disparities between the Fire Safety Order’s concept of a Responsible Person and the proposals for an Accountable Person and a Building Safety Manager contained in the Government’s response to the Building A Safer Future consultation response could confuse duty holders.
  • The Government should not make councils and other freeholders responsible for issues beyond their control. The FSB makes duty-holders responsible for fire doors, even if they are owned by leaseholders. Requiring councils to inspect fire doors is likely to prove unworkable and extremely costly.

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