29.—(1) The enforcing authority may serve on the responsible person a notice (in this Order referred to as “an alterations notice”) if the authority is of the opinion that the premises—
(a)constitute a serious risk to relevant persons (whether due to the features of the premises, their use, any hazard present, or any other circumstances); or
(b)may constitute such a risk if a change is made to them or the use to which they are put.
(2) An alterations notice must—
(a)state that the enforcing authority is of the opinion referred to in paragraph (1); and
(b)specify the matters which in their opinion, constitute a risk to relevant persons or may constitute such a risk if a change is made to the premises or the use to which they are put.
(3) Where an alterations notice has been served in respect of premises, the responsible person must, before making any of the changes specified in paragraph (4) which may result in a significant increase in risk, notify the enforcing authority of the proposed changes.
(4) The changes referred to in paragraph (3) are—
(a)a change to the premises;
(b)a change to the services, fittings or equipment in or on the premises;
(c)an increase in the quantities of dangerous substances which are present in or on the premises;
(d)a change to the use of the premises.
(5) An alterations notice may include a requirement that, in addition to the notification required by paragraph (3), the responsible person must —
(a)take all reasonable steps to notify the terms of the notice to any other person who has duties under article 5(3) in respect of the premises;
(b)record the information prescribed in article 9(7), in accordance with article 9(6);
(c)record the arrangements required by article 11(1), in accordance with article 11(2); and
(d)before making the changes referred to in paragraph (3), send the enforcing authority the following —
(i)a copy of the risk assessment; and
(ii)a summary of the changes he proposes to make to the existing general fire precautions.
(6) An alterations notice served under paragraph (1) may be withdrawn at any time and, for the purposes of this article, the notice is deemed to be in force until such time as it is withdrawn or cancelled by the court under article 35(2).
(7) Nothing in this article prevents an enforcing authority from serving an enforcement notice or a prohibition notice in respect of the premises.
What the Guidance says:
The purpose of an alterations notice is twofold. First, it is intended to assist enforcing
authorities in maintaining a risk-based inspection programme by highlighting potentially
high life-risk premises where risk levels may change and affect the outcomes of the fire
risk assessment. Secondly, it notifies the responsible person (and other persons who
have duties in respect of premises) that the enforcing authority considers the premises
to be of high or potentially high risk. This will affect those persons’ consideration of risk
in the premises.
An alterations notice, can be served at the discretion of the enforcing authority, in
relation to premises which, due to the nature of the premises and their use constitute
a serious risk to relevant persons or may do so if a change is made to them (including
the fixtures, services and fittings or an increase in dangerous substances) or the use that
they are put.
Where a notice is in force, the responsible person must notify the enforcing authority
of any proposed changes in relation to the premises that may result in a significant increase in risk to persons in the event of fire. The types of changes are listed at article 29(4) and are wide ranging. When considering serving an alterations notice the
enforcing authority will wish to ensure that through the explanation given, responsible
persons can reasonably identify the type of change the authority considers it necessary
to be notified about.
An alterations notice may also contain requirements to notify others that the notice
has been served and the terms of the notice; to record the results of a risk assessment;
to record fire safety arrangements in accordance with article 11 and before making
changes to send a copy of the risk assessment, together with a summary of changes
which will be made to the general fire precautions, to the enforcing authority. These
additional requirements are at the discretion of the enforcing authority and should be
applied as appropriate in the circumstances of the case.
The scope of this article is not intended to be unlimited, although it does confer a wide
power to serve a notice.
It is expected that decisions to serve such a notice will therefore be based on recent
intelligence gathered through enforcement audits and inspections or operational data
gathering, possibly after an incident. However, in some cases known levels of risk for a
type of premises may serve to demonstrate the point.
Examples of premises where use of an alterations notice maybe appropriate could
include buildings which rely on critical fire protection elements such as life safety
sprinklers, smoke ventilation and associated automatic fire detection; buildings where
a fire engineered solution has been incorporated within the building design in order
to satisfy the functional requirements of the Building Regulations; or poorly managed
buildings that are prone to regular fluctuations of risk or layout or occupancy.
Where an enforcing authority serves an alterations notice, it is important that it explains
why it has decided to take this course of action. An alterations notice served by an
enforcing authority in accordance with this article must therefore explain why the
enforcing authority is of the opinion that the premises constitute a serious risk or may
do so if a change is made to the use to which they are put. Whilst not a requirement of
the Order, it is considered to be best practice to explain the existence of a right of appeal
against the notice. The bringing of an appeal has the effect of suspending the operation
of the notice until the appeal is finally disposed of or withdrawn (see article 35).
Article 48 provides that a notice may be served on the responsible person either by
delivering it to him, or by leaving it at his proper address, or by sending it by post
to him at that address. Electronic service is also acceptable where the recipient has
indicated to the enforcing authority that they are prepared to accept service in that way.