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Fire Safety Help & Guidance

Hendeca’s vision includes providing the information and support that its client’s need to work in safe environments. To that end, we have provided free advice on these pages to help keep all types of institutions, businesses and industry safe at all times and reducing the risk of Fire.

Hendeca Group
Fire Safety 28/06/2023

Responsibility for fire safety

If you own, manage or operate a business, charity or other organisation you must comply with fire safety legislation called the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety Order) 2005 (FSO).

The FSO applies to nearly all types of premises excluding:

  • Single domestic premises
  • Offshore installations, ships (in respect of normal ship-board activities)
  • Fields, woods or other land forming part of an agricultural undertaking situated away from the main building
  • Aircraft, locomotive or rolling stock, trailer or semi-trailer used as a means of transport
  • Mines
  • Borehole sites

In the cases above, exemption from the FSO is because there is superior legislation or regulation that applies, or application would be impractical.

Who has responsibility for Fire Safety?

The person who has the overall duty for complying with the FSO is known as the Responsible Person (RP). In the workplace this would mean the employer. If not a workplace, the RP could be the owner of the premises, for example the landlord, or the person who has control of the premises such as a management company.

It’s important to note that every person who has, to any extent, control of the premises and any person who has a contract or obligation of any extent in relation to the maintenance, repair or safety of a premises is also treated as the RP so far as matters within their control, or to the extent that their contract or obligation extends.

An example of this is to think of a shop that is part of a retail chain. The business (employer) is the overall RP, however the branch manager has control of the shop so is also treated as the RP.

Similarly, the contractors that service the shops fire alarm have an obligation in relation to the safety of the shop, and therefore could also be considered the RP.

What are the responsibilities for Fire Safety?

As the Responsible Person you must:

  • Take general fire precautions to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the safety of employees and anyone who may be legally on or within the vicinity of the premises.
  • Carry out a Fire Risk Assessment (FRA) to identify fire hazards, those at risk, and the general fire precautions required
  • Tell staff or their representatives about the risks you’ve identified
  • Put in place and maintain appropriate fire safety measures as identified by your FRA
  • Put a plan in place on what to do in the event of a fire and make people aware of it
  • Provide staff with information, fire safety instruction and training
  • Review your FRA regularly, particularly if you believe there have been significant changes made, or it is no longer valid.

Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 places a legal requirement upon employers and persons with responsibility for premises (responsible persons). These responsibilities and safety measures are designed to protect life from fire regardless of fire and rescue service intervention. It is therefore essential to ensure that all existing fire safety provisions are in place and effective. It is recommended that directors, senior managers and other persons with fire safety responsibilities satisfy themselves that the following aspects have been considered in local arrangements:

  • Reviewing the arrangements for calling the fire and rescue service
  • Response to Automatic Fire Alarms
  • Business continuity planning
  • General fire safety
  • Reducing the risk of fire
  • Incidents involving passenger lifts.

In the event of fire call 999 at the earliest opportunity. A response will not follow a call received via Automatic Fire Alarms (see below) without further confirmation of a fire.

Check that effective arrangements are in place for a responsible person to meet fire crews on arrival and provide them with appropriate information – for example, the location of the nearest fire hydrant or other water supply.

To reduce unnecessary burdens on the fire and rescue service, special care must be taken to minimise the possibility of unwanted automatic fire signals. A response from your local fire and rescues service is unlikely to be made to calls received from automatic fire alarms without further confirmation of a fire. It is therefore essential that where automatic fire alarm systems are provided within your premises, that all appropriate employees / persons are aware of the need to call 999 in case of a confirmed fire and not to assume that the fire and rescue service will automatically attend.

Where any of your premises are used as dwellings and there are no appropriate employees / persons to check for signs of fire, tenants / occupiers should be made aware or the need to call 999 in case of a confirmed fire and not to assume that the fire and rescue service will automatically attend.

Where you have premises that are provided with automatic fire alarm systems and the fire instructions do not require a backup 999 telephone call, this change is to be brought to the attention of persons within the premises.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s guide to making your premises safe from fire provides simple and practical advice to people responsible for fire safety in small and medium sized businesses. It can be downloaded in English, Welsh, Chinese, Turkish, Urdu and Gujarati.

Business continuity planning

Responsible persons are urged to make the best use of the time available to check their organisations preparedness and to review their contingency arrangements. Existing risk registers and risk assessments may be useful to identify and prioritise action. The following checklist will support your business continuity planning:

  • Have the risks from fire been properly assessed and prioritised? Do these include risks to assets and business as well as risks to safety?
  • Are there nominated staff to manage any emergency situation and limit damage?
  • Is there a Business Recovery Plan in place and is it up to date?
  • Are key records, emergency plans and contact details duplicated off site?
  • Is there a detailed emergency fire plan in place? Is this up to date and has this been brought to the attention of all staff?
  • Are all key staff aware of their duties and have they been properly trained?
  • Have steps been taken to increase management inspections and review security to prevent arson and improve housekeeping?
  • Are arrangements in place (during periods of industrial action) to call the fire and rescue service by using the 999 system rather than placing reliance on automatic systems?
  • Can key staff can be contacted out of hours if necessary and are sufficient copies of emergency plans held in readiness off-site?
  • Are all contact details contained in the plans current and correct?
  • Special attention should be given to damage control and salvage arrangements in buildings and those containing business critical processes, information or other resources and in heritage buildings.

Fire risk assessment

Most premises, other than people’s private homes, must have a person responsible for carrying out and regularly reviewing a fire risk assessment of the premises. The assessment will identify what you need to do to prevent fire and keep people safe. There are many variations and examples of Fire Risk Assessment available today. Some need to be purchased while others are free.

To assist in managing fire safety, a set of guides have been produced by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government which explain what you have to do to comply with fire safety law.

The guides help you to carry out a fire risk assessment at your workplace and identify the general fire precautions you need to have in place.

They are designed so that a responsible person with limited training or experience should be able to carry out a fire risk assessment and make sure that they are meeting the requirements of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

Risk assessment guides for your business

Below is a list of various business-related fire risk assessment guides for fire safety in a range of workplaces.