Kit Malthouse – 2022 Statement on the Fire Reform White Paper

The statement made by Kit Malthouse, the Minister for Crime and Policing, in the House of Commons on 18 May 2022.

My noble Friend the Minister of State, Home Office and Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (Lord Greenhalgh) has today made the following written ministerial statement:

I am pleased to make a number of announcements to the House today that set out both the Government’s fire reform agenda and the introduction of a package of fire safety measures that will protect the public for years to come. Taken together, this is about:

Driving forward reform of the fire and rescue service by launching the Fire Reform White Paper and consultation (CP 670)

Implementing a package of measures to improve fire safety

Improving transparency and engaging the public.

Fire Reform White Paper and consultation

The Fire Reform White Paper and consultation seeks to introduce system-wide reform to strengthen fire and rescue services across England. The proposals are set out under three key themes: people; professionalism; and governance. The consultation is launching today to seek views and will be open for 10 weeks.

Review of the National Joint Council

As set out in the White Paper the Government will launch a review of the National Joint Council for Local Authority Fire and Rescue Services. The review, which will commence later this year, will consider whether the pay negotiation mechanism in England is fit for purpose.

The Fire Safety Act 2021

The Fire Safety Act 2021 was commenced in full on 16 May 2022. This will clarify that structure, external walls and flat entrance doors of blocks of flats are within scope of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (the fire safety order) and ensure that they are included in that building’s fire risk assessment.

Fire risk assessment prioritisation tool

To support commencement of the Fire Safety Act 2021, the Home Office is publishing supporting guidance issued under article 50 of the fire safety order and launching an online prioritisation tool. The new fire risk assessment prioritisation tool has been developed to help responsible persons identify the priority for updating fire risk assessments.

Fire risk assessment prioritisation tool:

Fire Safety (Regulations) 2022

The Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 will require responsible persons to send information on high-rise residential buildings which will help fire and rescue services better plan for and respond to a fire. They will also improve fire safety in high-rise buildings by setting a baseline on safety checks on lifts for firefighters and other key pieces of firefighting equipment and, in mid-rise buildings, on doors. They will also make residents in all multi-occupied residential buildings feel safer by providing them with fire safety instructions and information on the importance of fire doors.

Personal emergency evacuation plans (PEEPs) consultation response, and new consultation

We are publishing the responses to our PEEPs consultation which we ran from 8 June to 19 July 2021. We have taken account of the substantial difficulties of mandating PEEPs in high-rise residential buildings and have developed new proposals that we are confident deliver proportionality, practicality and improve safety for those vulnerable people living in the highest risk buildings. We will now consult and seek views on these proposals.

Fourth thematic update on Grenfell Tower inquiry phase 1 recommendations

We are publishing our latest update on progress against Grenfell Tower inquiry phase 1 recommendations. This shows progress made by Government Departments, and relevant public authorities, including the London Fire Brigade, and National Fire Chiefs Council. The tracker provides a digestible, transparent way for the public to hold those responsible for delivering recommendations to account.

Fires in high-rise residential buildings in England are rare, and thankfully deaths from fires in high-rise residential buildings are extremely rare. The Government, however, are committed to learning the lessons of the tragedy at Grenfell Tower.