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Call for single fire safety role for residential buildings

Friday 17 November 2017

Every residential building should have a single identifiable person responsible for fire safety to avoid confusion, a landlords organisation has said.

The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) says vital safety improvements risk not being taken, because the responsibilities for the various aspects of it are shared between the owners of a block, the fire services, the local authority and the owner of individual flats.

In its submission to the Government’s building regulation review, led by Dame Judith Hackitt, the RLA says that a new fire safety compliance code should be created.

The RLA believes that there should be one enforcement body for fire safety measures to  "improve accountability and address the risk that fire safety responsibilities fall through the cracks between different authorities and individuals."

The RLA also warns that "contradictory and outdated" fire safety guidance needs updating to better support good landlords.

RLA policy ponsultant, Richard Jones, said: “It is vital that the right lessons are learnt to prevent a tragedy such as Grenfell Tower happening again.

“Whilst there are widespread powers and regulations already available to ensure properties are safe, too often they are not being properly applied as a result of confused and sometimes contradictory guidance and no single person having overall responsibility for fire safety in a residential building.

“This needs to change to give residents piece of mind and ensure much better lines of accountability on such serious issues."

At present, landlords are expected to abide by fire safety guidance which was issued by LACORS, a body that no longer exists, fire safety regulations that date back to 2005 and building regulation guidance issued in 2006.

An RLA spokesperson said: "They must also follow guidance published in 2006 which covers the Housing, Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS), used by councils to assess risks in dwellings.

"Confusingly, existing smoke detector regulations suggest a lower standard for detection and fire alarms for various properties than that which is in fact needed under this guidance.

"This is one example of the contradictions under the current regime."

The Hackitt Review was set up after the Grenfell Tower blaze in June.

You can also take a look at our fire safety tips video here, And our Simple Guide to fire safety procedures.

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