Fire Safety Regulations
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (the Order) applies to virtually all premises and covers nearly every type of building, structure and open space. Although there are a small number of exclusions such as transport, the Order applies to almost all premises which do not constitute a single private dwelling, including the common areas of multi-occupied residential buildings.
Under the Order, anyone who has control of premises or anyone who has a degree of control over certain areas or systems may be a ‘responsible person’. The law therefore directly affects anyone who is:
- responsible for business or premises to which the public have access (for example employers, owners or occupiers); or
- a contractor with a degree of control over any premises.
Enforcement, Appeals and Penalties
Your local fire and rescue authority visits premises to check the fire risk assessment and fire prevention measures are appropriate. Fire safety officers should help you understand the rules and help you comply with them.
They can also take action if they think your fire safety measures aren’t adequate. For example, they might issue an informal notice suggesting changes you should consider making to make your premises safer.
They could also give you one of several different formal fire safety notices. The fire and rescue authority will tell you what you need to do to fix the problems given in the notice.
You could get an alterations notice if your premises has high safety risks or will have high safety risks if the use of the premises changes.
You could get an enforcement notice if the fire and rescue authority finds a serious risk that’s not being managed. It will say what improvements are needed and by when.
These take effect immediately if the fire and rescue authority thinks that the fire risk is so great that access to your premises needs to be prohibited or restricted.
You may be able to arrange an informal review from your fire and rescue authority if you disagree with the decision to issue a fire safety notice.
If you’ve already got the notice, you can appeal to your local magistrates’ court within 21 days.
In certain circumstances, you and the fire and rescue authority can ask for a ‘determination’ from the Communities Secretary to solve a dispute.
You can be prosecuted for not following fire safety regulations. If you’re convicted you could get a fine or go to prison.
Minor penalties can be up to £5,000. Major penalties can have unlimited fines and up to 2 years in prison.
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 applies to all non-domestic premises other than some specifically listed exemptions.
It replaces fire certification under the Fire Precautions Act 1971 with a general duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable:
- The safety of employees,
- In relation to non-employees to take such fire precautions as may reasonably be required in the circumstances to ensure that the premises are safe
- A duty to carry out a fire risk assessment
- The main duty holder will be the “responsible person ”
The duties on the responsible person will be extended to any person who has, to any extent, control of the premises .
It will set out the matters to be taken into account in carrying out a risk assessment:
- The general principles to be applied in implementing fire safety measures
- The special measures to be taken in relation to dangerous substances
- The Order will amend or repeal other legislation concerning fire safety .
Following the fire risk assessment the employer must where necessary in order to safeguard the safety of employees in case of fire and to the extent that it is appropriate, provide:
- Emergency exit routes and doors;
- The final emergency exit doors must open outwards and not be sliding or revolving;
- Emergency lighting to cover the exit routes where necessary;
- Fire-fighting equipment, fire alarms and where necessary fire detectors.
- Fire Exit signs, fire alarms and fire fighting equipment MUST be provided with pictograph signs - Health and Safety (Safety Signs & Signals) Regulations 1996.
- Employers MUST provide employees with fire safety training following the written risk assessment.
- An emergency plan may have to be prepared and sufficient workers trained and equipped to carry out their functions within any such plan.
- All equipment and facilities such as fire extinguishers, alarms systems and emergency doors should be regularly maintained and faults rectified as soon as possible. Defects and repairs must be recorded.
- Employers MUST plan, organise, control, monitor and review the measures taken to protect employees from fire whilst at work and if more than five employees, then a record must be maintained.
- Employers MUST appoint an adequate number of competent persons to assist them to comply with their obligations e.g. a competent assessor to conduct fire risk assessments or a competent instructor to provide fire safety training.
Persons shall be regarded as competent where they have sufficient training, experience, knowledge, and other qualities properly to perform their functions to conduct the fire risk assessment.
If employers intentionally or recklessly fail to comply, they will be guilty of an offence.
There are a number of other technical and specific Regulations.
N.B. The above brief extracts of Fire Safety Legislation do not constitute the actual Regulations to which reference should be made. We accept no responsibility for any person failing to refer to the Regulations or their enforcing authority.
Fire Risk Assessment Questions
These are just a few of the questions that need to be considered by a "competent person" doing a fire risk assessment:-
1. Does furniture cause only an acceptable fire risk?
What constitutes an "acceptable" risk?
2. Are there sufficient exits for the number of people present?
How many exits are "sufficient" and what is the occupancy factor - the limit on the number of people to be present
3. Are all escape routes adequately lit?
What is "adequate " illumination for an escape route?
4. Are all vents and service ducts etc suitably protected where appropriate to prevent the spread of fire, heat or smoke?
What is "suitable" protection and where and what is "appropriate"?
5. Is there sufficient fire fighting equipment of the correct type?
What is "sufficient" and what is the "appropriate" type?
6. Have all staff received adequate training from a competent person?
What is "adequate" training and who is "competent" to deliver it?
- Health, Safety & Risk Assessment
- Dynamic Risk Assessment
- Health & Safety Regulations
- Health & Safety Training