Answering the Necessary Questions about Fire Safety Legislation

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, sometimes called the Fire Safety Order (FSO) or otherwise known as the RRO came into force in 2006. It replaced most previous fire safety legislation for England and Wales, Scotland is covered under the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005 and Fire Safety (Scotland) Regulations 2006.

What is its purpose?

It was created to reduce the burden on businesses caused by multiple overlapping fire safety regimes and consequently overlap of the responsibilities of enforcing authorities. It was also brought in to consolidate existing fire safety legislation at the time and reduce the number of enforcing authorities responsible for dealing with general fire safety. The FSO enhances the protection afford to people using properties, and others in the surrounding area, who might be affected by a fire on the premises).

Who does it apply to?

The order applies to the umbrella term that is “commercial businesses”. What this really includes is; shops, offices, care facilities, factories, warehouses, community halls, schools, pubs, restaurants, hostels, hotels, and any person who is responsible for the common areas of multi-family housing units.

If you are self employed and use your own home for your business, it also applies to you.

Charity organisations also come under the FSO and any contractors with temporary control over a building or structure is also responsible for fire safety.

How does it apply?

The FSO states that a responsible person (a person with control of a building, even if temporarily) should take steps to reduce fire risk. They are also in charge of making sure any people, including visitors, can safely evacuate the building, in the event of a fire.

If there are two or more responsible persons, under Article 22 of the FSO, they are required to coordinate and cooperate with each other.

The responsible person must also ensure the building is up to date with fire risk assessments. Which consists of:

  • Identifying fire hazards.
  • Identifying the relevant people who may be at risk.
  • Eliminating and reducing risk where possible.
  • Providing fire precautions to deal with the identified risks.
  • Take precautions if there are flammable materials on the premises.

Risk assessments and the actions taken as a result should be kept as a record and provided at any inspections. If five or more people are employed, the responsible person is required to provide “prescribed information” to those relevant people. Prescribed information includes making them aware of the risk assessment and the subsequent actions taken or to be taken e.g. fire safety training and the emergency plan.

This is also relevant if the five or more employees are at different locations, under the same employer. For instance, if you own three shops all with three members of staff, they must all be given the prescribed information for that specific shop.

In the case that your premises are under any statutory licence or an alteration notice under the FSO, you must also have this prescribed information available.

An alteration notice states, fire authorities must be made aware if your premises have high safety risks or will have high safety risks if any changes are made to the building i.e. working with flammable materials.

Risk assessments should be reviewed regularly, every 12 to 18 months is recommended. It should be reviewed, and necessary amendments made if there are significant changes to the property. Significant changes include but are not limited to; construction, how the premises are being used and/or a large increase in number of people visiting or working in the vicinity.

Who is the Responsible Person?

In a business, this is the employer and any person who has control over any part of the property, such as the owner.

If the building is not a workplace, the responsible person or persons are those in control of the premises.

 

Who is a Relevant Person?

This is any person on the premises, lawfully, including the responsible person or in the area that may be affected if there was a fire.

An example of relevant persons, if you store explosive substances at your property, in the event of a fire an exclusion zone may be put into effect, which could impact occupants of other businesses or residential properties nearby.

Who are the Relevant Authorities Now?

Fire authorities are the main authority responsible for enforcement of the FSO. They should carry out inspections, assess complaints and investigate when required.

They can offer advice on fire safety, give formal notice, alteration notices, and stop premises being used for certain purposes, if deemed in violation of the FSO.

Are Fire Certificates still valid?

Under the FSO, the Fire Precautions Act 1971, which required premises to have a fire certificate, was repealed. This means fire certificates are no longer issued or valid and you should follow the steps provided by the FSO, to prepare a fire risk assessment and emergency plan.

Fire certificates can be useful to prepare fire risk assessments as they will help you in evaluating existing fire safety measures.

How do Cannon use it?

At Cannon, we provide fire suppression for a wide variety of sectors. Under the retail and leisure sector on our website, we detail how our customers should be using the FSO at their businesses.

Additionally, if considering the ANSUL® Piranha Kitchen Fire Suppression system, or any of our systems we must insist that our customers have conducted a full fire risk assessment in line with the FSO and that careful consideration has been given to what system will be most effective to reducing fire risk at the premises.

To find out about us and our history, you can visit our about page.

To learn more about the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, the Government have created an extensive guidance notes to help better understand the duties under the order and the intent of specific aspects.

About Cannon Fire Protection

With over 30 years of experience, Cannon Fire Protection has developed an excellent reputation within the fire protection industry throughout the United Kingdom and Europe. Independent auditing of our quality management systems, contracting and service operations ensures the very best provision of support in our sector. Cannon Fire Protection and sister company are part of the Asset Protection Group.

 

About APG

The Asset Protection Group comprises a group of Fire & Security companies with shared ownership and one common goal, protecting your most important assets. As a collective group, we look to offer protection to your assets to assist you with your ongoing success within your own business.