Fire Safety Net

Legal Obligations

Brief Overview

To assist you we have bullet pointed the key issues:

  • The legislation appoints a responsible person, it is usually the person who has "control of the premises"
  • The responsible person must appoint one or more competent persons to assist him in taking preventative and protective measures
  • Competent persons need to have sufficient training and experience and knowledge to enable them to properly implement the measures identified for fire safety (That's were we come in!)
  • If 5 or more people are at work in the premises then a fire risk assessment has to be carried out, recorded and the significant findings acted upon
  • The fire service are the enforcing authority and have a right to inspect buildings, you cannot deny them entry
  • The fire service have a right to inspect your records, make enquiries and take samples
  • They can serve an enforcement notice on the responsible person if they are of the opinion that the responsible person is failing to comply with the Order
  • If they believe that the use of the premises constitutes a risk to persons so serious that the use of the premises ought to be prohibited or restricted they can serve a Prohibition notice to stop you using part or all of your premises
  • The responsible person commits an offence if he fails to comply with the duties imposed by the legislation
  • Offences are prosecutable in the Magistrates Court or the Crown Court. Fines and or terms of imprisonment can be imposed; currently an average fine is £7000 plus costs, fines of £250,000 have been imposed

Enforcement

The Fire Authority will enforce the Regulatory Reform Order unless the premises are the responsibility of the HSE due to licensing for dangerous substances etc, naval ships or a construction site.

Local Authorities will enforce fire safety at sports grounds which fall under the control of the Safety of Sports Grounds Act 1975.

Powers of inspectors

An authorised inspector may do anything necessary to carry out the duties imposed by the Order.

At any reasonable time he may enter and inspect the premises, make enquiries about any matter, check documents and records, identify the responsible person, take samples and extracts of documents or undertake any other task he deems necessary.

Enforcement notices

The enforcing authority can serve a notice on the responsible person if they are of the opinion that the responsible person is failing to comply with the Order.

The Notice must state what is wrong and why and include the steps that the person must take to comply with the Notice. A period of not less than 28 days must be given for the carrying out of works.

Prohibition notices

If the Fire Authority believes that the use of the premises constitutes a risk to persons so serious that the use of the premises ought to be prohibited or restricted they can serve a Prohibition notice.

A Prohibition Notice takes effect immediately it is served if the risk to safety is considered to be imminent, otherwise the Notice can be deferred.

Alterations notices

If a Fire Authority believes that fire safety may be compromised if premises are altered they may serve an Alterations Notice on the responsible person requiring them to inform the Authority of the pending alteration.


 

The information below gives you a more detailed explanation of the legislation the fire service use to enforce fire safety in places of work:

Legislation: Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005

Introduction

The Order reforms the law relating to fire safety in non-domestic premises and it comes into force on 1st October 2006. In particular, it replaces:

- The Fire Precautions Act 1971 which required the occupier of designated premises to apply for a fire certificate; and

- The Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations 1997 (as amended) which required employers to carry out a fire risk assessment, identify the significant findings of the risk assessment, provide and maintain such fire precautions as are necessary to safeguard those who use the workplace and provide information, instruction and training to employees about the fire precautions.

Fire Safety Net

Objectives of the Order

To reduce burdens on business that are caused by the existence of multiple, overlapping general fire safety regimes - and consequently overlap of the responsibilities of enforcing authorities.

To consolidate and rationalise existing fire safety legislation (currently spread across a large number of statutes and secondary legislation) into one order.

Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005

Application

The Order applies to all non domestic premises except:

  • Off shore installations.
  • A ship.
  • Fields, woods and other lands forming an agricultural or forestry undertaking.
  • An aircraft, locomotive or rolling stock or a vehicle for which a licence is in force.
  • A mine within the meaning of the Mines and Quarries Act 1954.
  • A borehole site.

Duty Holders

The main duty holder is the "responsible person" in relation to the premises.

A responsible person is:

i) In relation to a workplace - the employer where the workplace is to any extent under his control

ii) In relation to any premises not falling into (i) above, the person who has control of the premises (as occupier or otherwise) in connection with him carrying on a trade, business or other undertaking (for profit or not)

or

iii) The owner where the person carrying on the business does not have any control over the premises.

The requirements of the Order are in fact imposed on any person who has, to any extent, control of premises so far as the requirements relate to matters within his control.

Fire Safety Net

Fire Safety Duties

The responsible person must:-

a) Take such general fire precautions as will ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the safety of any of his employees, and

b) In relation to relevant persons who are not his employees, take such general fire precautions as may reasonably be required in the circumstances of the case to ensure that the premises are safe.

Fire Risk Assessment

The responsible person must ensure a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks is undertaken by a competent person for the purpose of identifying the general fire precautions he needs to take to comply with the requirements and prohibitions imposed on him by or under the Order.

Fire risk assessments must be reviewed regularly by the responsible person so as to keep it up to date.

Recording the Fire Risk Assessment

Where the responsible person employs 5 or more employees he must record the information gathered during the fire risk assessment, in particular:

- The significant findings.
- The measures taken, or to be taken, to ensure general fire safety.
- Any persons identified as being especially at risk.

Fire Safety Arrangements

The responsible person must make and give effect to such arrangements as are appropriate to the size and nature of his undertaking for:

- Effective planning.
- Organisation.
- Control.
- Monitoring.
- Review.

of the preventative measures necessary to manage fire safety.

Arrangements must be in writing where there are five or more employees.

Safety Assistance

The responsible person must appoint one or more competent persons to assist him in taking preventative and protective measures.

Competent persons need to have sufficient training and experience and knowledge to enable them to properly implement the measures identified for fire safety.

Offences

The responsible person commits an offence if he fails to comply with the duties imposed by the Order.

Offences are prosecutable in the Magistrates Court or the Crown Court. Fines and or terms of imprisonment can be imposed.