Is your business premises fire safe?

By Nick Bami - Facilities Consultancy Limited


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The law regarding Fire Safety in the UK has changed. On 1st October 2006 the Regulatory reform (Fire & safety) order, came into force. All existing fire legislation will be repealed including the Fire Precautions Act 1971, Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations 1997/99, Management of Health & Safety in the Workplace Regulations 1999 + 100 pieces of related legislation will be replaced with the introduction of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order.

Fire certificates will no longer be issued to all but certain high risk establishments. This has now been replaced with the requirement for fire safety risk assessment. Employers have become solely responsible for fire safety within their workplaces.

The new regulations apply to all workplaces/premises, with only a few exceptions.

The requirement for comprehensive and unique fire risk assessments remains. Each individual company is responsible for their own fire safety. The employer must conduct a fire risk assessment regardless of the size of the risk, Staff Fire Training, Fire Warden Training and the provision of fire emergency plans and maintenance of adequate fire safety precautions. The companies identified responsible person would therefore take full corporate liability.

While additional responsibilities must also be considered

Extended scope of consideration now to include property safety, fire fighter safety and the environment around the site as well as just protecting life. This means that allowing a building to be sacrificed is unacceptable due to the risk to neighbouring buildings and fire fighters. The responsible person would have a duty to protect the fire brigade and ensure all members of staff partake in Fire Training & Fire Warden Training as appropriate.

The appointment of one or more employees to assist in ensuring compliance with the regulations (such as a Fire Warden).

The purpose of fire fighting equipment is clarified, in that it is there to enable a small fire to be attacked to prevent it spreading. Therefore, you will need to ensure there has been training on the correct use of fire fighting equipment.

A new emphasis on business continuity, while in the event of a fire containing it and preventing the spread of small fires.

Protection must now not be just for employees, Visitors and contractors. Fire fighters and passers-by also have to be considered while carrying out both the risk assessment and Fire Training.