In the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy and Dame Judith Hackitt’s subsequent report, a significant transformation has taken place in the law surrounding building safety across the UK. The Safety Letterbox Company has recently launched an important tested and certified high security product which could help ensure the safety of residents in an emergency.
The introduction of the Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 (which became legislation in January 2023) marked a significant milestone, heralding a new era of heightened safety measures and responsibilities, particularly for high-rise and multi-occupied residential buildings.
These regulations, while stringent, are a proportionate response to the risks posed by fires in high-rise buildings. They extend beyond high-rise residential buildings, also imparting responsibilities on medium and low-rise buildings where necessary. In addition, the regulations introduced newly enforceable responsibilities for building owners or managers, referred to as "responsible persons," under the Fire Safety Order.
The responsibilities of responsible persons
The regulations state that:
For high-rise residential buildings (a multi-occupied existing residential building at least 18 metres in height or 7 or more storeys and new buildings over 11 metres), responsible persons must:
- Share electronically with their local fire and rescue service (FRS) information about the building’s external wall system and provide the FRS with electronic copies of floor plans and building plans for the building;
- Install wayfinding signage in all high-rise buildings which is visible in low light conditions;
- Establish a minimum of monthly checks on lifts which are for the use of firefighters in high-rise residential buildings and on essential pieces of firefighting equipment;
- Inform the FRS if a lift used by firefighters or one of the pieces of firefighting equipment is out of order for longer than 24 hours and;
- Keep hard copies of the building’s floor plans, in addition to a single page orientation plan of the building, and the name and UK contact details of the responsible person in a Secure Information Box (SIB) which is accessible by firefighters.
So what is a Secure Information Box?
In emergencies, every second counts. Formerly known as Premises Information Boxes, which were non-mandatory, the role of the Secure Information Box (SIB) is to provide firefighters with everything they need to know to help them make decisions quickly – from floor plans and access routes to information about vulnerable residents, and materials used in the building's construction.
Typically, an SIB should conform to STS 205 BR2 for external and internal use and be a clearly identifiable, high security A3 box with master keys held by the Fire Service. It contains important information* that could make the difference when attending an emergency situation, including floor plans, on arrival information, residents’ information including vulnerable or disable residents and the current evacuation strategy, as well as building materials and key contacts.
The presence of a SIB is now mandatory
For responsible persons, failure to comply could now mean legal action, fines, or even imprisonment. And for new buildings, it translates to a potential delay in occupancy or development progress – and scenarios where residents are left without homes and developers without returns on their investments.
And let’s not forget, failure to comply has potentially fatal consequences too.
Designed and built in the UK to the highest standards
The design of an SIB is crucial in that it must be strong enough to withstand attempts at tampering, ensuring that the sensitive personal data within remains protected. Plus each box must have its own unique key (the Fire Service will hold a master key for all such boxes).
At SLB, we understand that a SIB is not just a box; it's a guardian of data security and human safety. Our SIBs are built to the highest security standards, ensuring they remain accessible and intact even in the most challenging locations. They are also Secured By Design, an approved Police preferred specification.
They weigh 23 kilos, made from 2mm and 4mm thick steel, with multi point locking. As with all our products, our SIBs are third party tested, certified and audited to stringent security standards (STS205 Resistance Class BR2), so they are fully tamper-and-vandal-proof.
In addition, we always ensure that we follow strict protocols for delivery. All products are sent to the responsible person, with a controlled and secure record keeping process for any issued keys, leaving a full audit trail.
You can’t take risks when it comes to fire safety
Alison Orrells is the CEO and MD of The Safety Letterbox Company. She commented:
‘We committed to the creation of a SIB to the highest specification to ensure that the built environment has a product that is tested, certified and can deliver information vitally when it is needed. Working with test bodies and fire authorities we have thoroughly explored the needs and demands and what is required to ensure that building residents and occupiers are provided with the best and most efficient service by fire fighters in emergency situations. Our SIB is a highly robust product that gives fire services the information and efficient process that saves time and enables responsible persons to safely store updated information. It ensures that all those who manage, own or occupy buildings have peace of mind, knowing that information which could be absolutely vital in saving lives and buildings is safely and securely stored in a SIB tested to the highest standards and conditions. We are extremely proud of this commitment and skill demonstrated by our team and investment made in this product, fully made in our factory in South Wales.’
* A full list of recommended SIB contents can be found within the Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022
About The Safety Letterbox Company
The Safety Letterbox Company are an established award-winning British manufacturer – designing, manufacturing and supplying mailboxes and parcel boxes (and now, Secure Information Boxes) from their UK factory in South Wales since 1986. Over the years the business has built a strong reputation in the market as a quality British manufacturer supplying many diverse sectors in the B2B and B2C built environment markets both in the UK and worldwide. With strong ESG commitments, they are ISO9001, Investors in People, Gold Sustainability School, Constructionline, SMAS, IASME Level 2, Secured By Design accredited
Find out more about The Safety Letterbox Company Ltd on their member profile page here