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Fire Safety Order

Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005

The Fire safety Order was bought into force on 1st October 2006.  It is now the only piece of fire legislation that applies to non-domestic premise (with a few minor exceptions).

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The Order applies in England and Wales.  It covers general fire precautions and other fire safety duties which are needed to protect ‘relevant persons’ in case of fire in and around most ‘premises’.

The Order requires fire precautions to be put in place ‘where necessary’ and to the extent that it is reasonable and practicable in the circumstances to do so.  Under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, the responsible person must carry out, or appoint a competent person to carry out a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment.  This must include the risks of fire to their employees, and others who may be affected by their work or business.

If your organisation employs five or more people, your premises are licensed or an alterations notice is in force, you must record the significant findings of the assessment.  It is good practice to record your significant findings in any case.

What are the key points?

  • Simplified the law by having a single piece of legislation that applies to all non-domestic premises
  • Based fire safety on risk assessment making it less prescriptive and bringing it into line with other health and safety legislation.
  • Puts the responsibility for fire safety on the employer or the person in control of the premises.
  • Made the Fire Authority the single enforcing authority for the Fire Safety Order (with a few exceptions)

Some important concepts you should know

“Responsible Person” – the “responsible person” concept is hierarchical. It starts with the employer; if someone is employed on a premises the employer is responsible for compliance with the Fire Safety Order.  If no-one is employed, such as village halls, scout huts etc, it is the person in control of the premises.  Finally, if it is neither of those it is the owner of the premises.

“Relevant Persons” - relevant persons are people who are lawfully on the premises or in the vicinity of the premises and may be affected by fire.  The Responsible Person must include all these people when doing the risk assessment

General Fire Precautions – general fire precautions are the back bone of the fire safety order and inform the responsible person about the measures they must take to comply with the order.  The measures include, means of escape, fire fighting equipment, emergency lighting, fire detection and warning and emergency plans.  It also includes measures to reduce the risk of fire and the risk of it spreading.

Passive fire protection (or protective measures) -  Passive fire protection stops fire from spreading through a building and includes the fire resistance of walls, doors, ceilings and floors.  The design of a building is integral to its passive fire protection which is why you must check with building control before making any structural changes to the building.  The primary function of passive fire protection is to keep the fire in the room of origin.

Preventive measures – Preventive measures are all the measures taken to prevent a fire from occurring and would include maintenance of electrical systems and equipment, controlling ignition sources and heat sources, and controlling dangerous substances.

Fire risk assessment - Please refer to our fire risk assessment page for more information.

Responsibility for complying with the Order rests with the ‘responsible person’.  In a workplace, this is the employer and any other person who may have control of any part of the premises, e.g. the occupier or owner.  In all other premises the person or people in control of the premises will be responsible.  If there is more than one responsible person in any type of premises (e.g. a multi-occupied complex), all must take all reasonable steps to co-operate and co-ordinate with each other.

If you are the responsible person you must carry out a fire risk assessment which must focus on the safety in case of fire of all ‘relevant persons’.  It should pay particular attention to those at special risk, such as disabled people, those who you know have special needs and children, and must include consideration of any dangerous substance liable to be on the premises.  Your fire risk assessment will help you identify risks that can be removed or reduced and decide the nature and extent of the general fire precautions you need to take.

There are some other fire safety duties you need to comply with:

  • You must appoint one or more competent persons, depending on the size and use of your premises, to assist in undertaking any of the preventive and protective measures required by the Order (you can nominate yourself for this purpose).  A competent person is someone with enough training and experience or knowledge and other qualities to be able to implement these measures properly.
  • You must provide your employees with clear and relevant information on the risks to them identified by the fire risk assessment, about the measures you have taken to prevent fires, and how these measures will protect them if a fire breaks out.
  • You must consult your employees (or their elected representatives) about nominating people to carry out particular roles in connection with fire safety and about proposals for improving the fire precautions.
  • You must, before you employ a child, provide a parent with clear and relevant information on the risks to that child identified by the risk assessment, the measures you have put in place to prevent/protect them from fire and inform any other responsible person of any risks to that child arising from their undertaking.
  • You must inform non-employees, such as temporary or contract workers, of the relevant risks to them, and provide them with information about who are the nominated competent persons, and about the fire safety procedures for the premises.
  • You must co-operate and co-ordinate with other responsible persons who also have premises in the building, inform them of any significant risks you find, and how you will seek to reduce/control those risks which might affect the safety of their employees. 
  • You must provide the employer of any person from an outside organisation who is working in your premises (e.g. agency providing temporary staff) with clear and relevant information on the risks to those employees and the preventive and protective measures taken.  You must also provide those employees with appropriate instructions and relevant information about the risks to them.
  • If you are not the employer but have any control of premises which contain more than one workplace, you are also responsible for ensuring that the requirements of the Order are complied with in those parts over which you have control.
  • You must consider the presence of any dangerous substances and the risk this presents to relevant persons from fire.
  • You must establish a suitable means of contacting the emergency services and provide them with any relevant information about dangerous substances. 
  • You must provide appropriate information, instruction and training to your employees, during their normal working hours, about the fire precautions in your workplace, when they start working for you, and from time to time throughout the period they work for you. 
  • You must ensure that the premises and any equipment provided in connection with firefighting, fire detection and warning, or emergency routes and exits are covered by a suitable system of maintenance, and are maintained by a competent person in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair. 
  • Your employees must co-operate with you to ensure the workplace is safe from fire and its effects, and must not do anything that will place themselves or other people at risk.

Put simply, you are more likely to have a fire and less likely to recover from one.  It is also a legal requirement designed to keep everyone, associated with a business, safe from fire.

Did you know the Fire Service may inspect your premises as part of our responsibility to enforce the law?

If feel you need to improve your fire safety we would first offer advice, but in serious cases we may take formal legal enforcement action and in some cases close your business, until it is safe to open again.

The short time you invest in carrying out a fire risk assessment and making improvements could save the lives of your employees, customers or family members and keep your business open.

Don’t let this to happen to you!

A South West restaurant owner was ordered to pay nearly £20,000 in fines and costs after pleading guilty to six breaches of fire safety legislation.

The local Magistrates Court fined the owner £3,000 per offence, which was reduced to £2,000 for his guilty plea, and also ordered him to pay full costs of £7,282.

He was unable to pay and served some time in prison.

Fire Safety Law leaflet for restaurants and takeaways:

For more information on fire risk assessments please refer to: