It’s necessary for all businesses to be aware of fire safety legislation, but before getting involved in any detail, it can be useful to have an understanding of the basics. So, we’ve put together this guide for you to help you do just that.
The fire safety statutory provisions that we currently have in place in the UK have evolved from measures that have been introduced slowly over many years. The majority of fire safety legislation was introduced following a major fire or fires with high mortality rates. It is known as stable door legislation, because it was created in response to an event that has passed.
The main fire safety legislative order in the UK is called The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
This order should have come into force on the 1st April 2006, but was delayed until the 1st October 2006. It was created in response to a call to simplify and rationalise the UK fire regulations at the time. The previous UK fire safety legislation was amended and reformed using the Regulatory Reform Act 2001. The new order was designed to provide a minimum fire safety standard in non-domestic premises such as places of work.
All premises (or parts of premises) that are used for non-domestic purposes, with a few exceptions, are subjected to the Order. Usually, a person is designated as the Responsible Person for that property. Often it is the employer or the owner that holds this responsibility. The Responsible Person is required to carry out mandatory fire safety duties, which include ensuring the general fire precautions are satisfactory and carrying out a fire risk assessment. The Responsible Persons can have competent persons to assist them with performing their legal duties. If more than five persons are employed at the premises, it must be a written risk assessment.
What was the previous general fire safety legislation?
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 replaced previous fire safety legislation and any fire certificate issued under the Fire Precautions Act 1972 ceased having an effect. If a fire certificate was issued for your premises or the premises were built to building regulations under the previous regulations, then most people found they didn’t need to make too many changes to their existing fire protection measures in order to comply with the new order.
However, they still had to carry out a fire risk assessment and keep it up to date to ensure that all their fire precautions were up to date and satisfactory. It required a mind-set shift in order to take into account the wider scope of the new order. Premises were also subject to the provisions of a licence or registration in cases where the fire authority wished to review their risk assessment as part of the licensing approval process.
The new, risk-assessment based regime required those persons responsible for premises used for carrying of a trade, business or other undertakings, for profit or not (including the self-employed and also members of the public) to take action to prevent fires, and protect them against death and injury should a fire occur.
This was a similar duty to the one imposed on employers by the Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations 1997, but under the new order, the duty was extended beyond workplaces to include the majority of premises to which people have access.
To support the Order, The Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLC) published a suite of eleven new guidance documents. They gave advice on most types of premises where the duty to undertake a fire safety risk assessment under the new order applied.
To this day, using the guidance contained in the Fire Safety Advice Centre should be sufficient to meet the minimum standards that are required by United Kingdom Legislation.
If you feel overwhelmed by fire safety regulation and are unsure about whether or not you are meeting requirements, or what your responsibilities are, then do give us a call and we’ll walk you through it and let you know what we can offer to support your fire safety needs.