Fire safety inspections for multi-occupied buildings
Information on multi-occupied residential buildings and the Joint Audit and Inspection Team who work to ensure these buildings have the right safety precautions in place
What are tall buildings and multi-occupied residential buildings (MORBs)?
The Government says that all buildings over 18 metres are classed as high-rise buildings.
Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service and Nottingham City Council were the first to work jointly to inspect MORBs, and the team not only at look high-rise buildings but they also look at all buildings that consist of 11 flats or more. 484 buildings in total were identified in the city. Future new build buildings will also be added to this list for inspection and audit.
What is the Joint Audit and Inspection Team (JAIT)?
The JAIT is made up of officers from Nottingham City Council, including Environmental Health and Enforcement Officers, as well as Fire Safety Inspectors from Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service.
The role of the team is to audit and inspect, and to ensure the safety of MORBs in the City of Nottingham. Both organisations use their statutory duties under the Housing Act 2004 and the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 to ensure buildings are made safe, if any issues are found.
What does a JAIT inspection look like?
The inspections are carried out by a qualified Fire Safety Inspector from Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service and an Environmental Health or Enforcement Officer from Nottingham City Council.
The person or company responsible for a multi-occupied building will be notified that the JAIT is going to inspect, by either letter or email, and will be given at least one week’s notice before the team arrive, less if mutually agreed or in urgent/emergency situations.
During an inspection you will be asked*:
- Is there a fire risk assessment?
- Is the fire risk assessment suitable and sufficient, with findings actioned?
- Is the building well managed?
- Is there a fire logbook and records for lightning testing plus the five-year electrical test?
- Is there a fire alarm in common areas?
- Has the fire alarm been tested weekly?
- Has the fire alarm been serviced within the last six months by a fire alarm engineer?
- Have there been six fire alarm activations in the last six months?
- What actions have been taken to address and reduce the number of fire alarm activations?
- Have unwanted fire alarm activations been discussed with a fire alarm engineer?
- Is the fire alarm connected to an alarm receiving centre?
- Has the link to the alarm receiving centre been tested?
- Has the emergency lighting been tested monthly by a short/flick test?
- Has the emergency lighting been serviced by a contractor?
- Is there any firefighting equipment installed in the building(s)?
- Have fire extinguishers been serviced annually by an engineer?
- Are fire blankets installed in areas with cooking facilities?
- When staff are employed on site, have they received fire safety training, an induction and refresher training?
- When there is an evacuation policy for simultaneous evacuation, have fire drills been carried out?
- If contractors are working in means of escape or their work may affect the escape route, have the contractors been informed of:
- fire detection in the area they are working in?
- safe working practices to ensure the escape route can be used at all times?
- not wedging open fire doors?
- returning the area back to a safe state at the end of the day before leaving the building(s)?
- reinstating any fire stopping as works are finished?
- In multi-occupied buildings when means of escape are shared and the fire alarm may extend into more than one business, is there co-operation between responsible persons (business owners, managing agents) to ensure safety throughout the whole building?
- Are the means of escape safe and readily available at all times?
- Are monthly fire door checks being carried out?
- Are corridors and stairs free from storage or rubbish?
- Has a passive fire stopping survey been completed for the building, above false ceilings and in risers?
- Are facilities installed to protect the means of escape and to protect firefighters putting out a fire or rescuing someone trapped:
- are dry risers installed?
- have the dry risers been checked for damage?
- have the dry risers been serviced in the last six months?
- are automatic opening vents installed in stairs and/or corridors?
- have the automatic opening vents been tested weekly to ensure they open?
- have the automatic opening vents been serviced by an engineer in the last six months?
- does the building have a firefighting lift(s)?
- is a monthly test of the lift emergency call button carried out?
- has a survey been carried out to ensure the firefighting lift is safe to use by crews?
- has the firefighting lift been serviced within the last 12 months?
- are sprinklers installed within the building?
- are sprinklers installed in flats and how are these serviced?
- how do you know sprinklers in flats have been serviced?
- have the sprinklers been checked weekly to ensure the correct pressure is in the system?
- have the sprinklers been serviced within the last six months?
- are there disabled refuges in the building?
- are there emergency voice communication stations installed at disabled refuges and are they being tested weekly?
- has the emergency voice communication system been serviced within the last six months?
- Has the building got solar panels fitted?
- Have firefighters got easy access to the solar panel isolation controls?
- Has an external wall survey been completed and has this been assessed by the RICS?
- Have the findings of the external wall survey identified that combustible materials have been used on the building?
- Has the building got timber balconies?
- Are tenants storing household goods on the balconies, including barbeques?
* Please note, this is not the full inspection and audit list, but it will give you an idea of what is looked at.
There have been a number of common issues found within buildings, including but not limited to issues with:
- testing certificates and service records – Fire Alarm, Emergency Lighting, Fire Fighting Lift(s), Ventilation, Sprinklers, Wet/Dry Riser
- type of fire risk assessment completed
- cladding system and report
- compartmentation and fire stopping
- fire alarm coverage, system type and justification
- fire doors – intumescent strips and seals
- poor housekeeping
- combustibles in common areas – noticeboards, door mats etc
- emergency exit signage
- Fire Service access and premises information.
We would encourage all building owners to ensure their risk assessment covers these areas and that they are aware of the state of these matters within their buildings.
What should I expect after an inspection?
After an inspection, the responsible person or company will be notified of the outcome. This will be in writing by letter with an accompanying report listing defects found and the appropriate remedies. However, in rare circumstances, it may be in the form of a formal Notice if the seriousness of fire safety defects warrants it.
Engagement events and contacting the team
Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service and Nottingham City Council will be holding a number of engagement events for building owners, responsible persons and those involved in the development of premises across the city. Further details will be published when available.
If you would like to be added to a mailing list or would like to contact the team in general, then please email them at
Further guidance, legislation and support
Do you live in a high-rise building?