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Fire Safety Legislation

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 came into force 1st October 2006.

This regime of fire safety enforcement will affect employers and those who are responsible for, non-domestic, Industrial, commercial and residential premises.

Self-employed people and the voluntary sector will also be brought within this regime.

Fire safety responsibilities under Section 156 of the Building Safety Act 2022

As of 1st October 2023, legislation will introduce new requirements of what ‘Responsible Persons’ need to do as a result of changes made to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (‘the Fire Safety Order’) through the Building Safety Act 2022.

Find out more about these new responsibilities.

The Fire Safety Act 2021 (the Act) amends the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (the Fire Safety Order). 

The Fire Safety Act in England and Wales, and the Regulations in England, strengthens the Fire Safety Order and improves fire safety.

We have more on the Fire Safety Act 2021 here.

About the legislation

This legislation aims to simplify, rationalise and consolidate the old fire safety legislation. It provides for a risk-based approach to fire safety allowing more efficient effective enforcement by the Fire and Rescue Service.

At the core of the legislation lies the Fire Risk Assessment.

This is an organised appraisal of your work activities and the workplace to enable you to identify potential fire hazards, and to decide who (including employees and visitors) might be in danger in the event of fire, and their location.

You will then evaluate the risks arising from the hazards and decide whether the existing fire precautions are adequate, or whether more needs to be done. With the old fire safety legislation having now been repealed, occupiers of premises no longer need to apply for a Fire Certificate.

The Fire Protection Association (FPA) has produced a leaflet called Guidance on Fire Safety at Work. This leaflet provides some useful check-lists that may assist with your initial assessment of your workplace.

The Government has, in partnership with other stakeholders produced a suite of guides which will help the responsible person(s) comply with the new legislation.

Fire Risk Assessment

The Responsible Person(s) must carry out, a Suitable and Sufficient fire risk assessment of the risks of fire to their employees and others who may be affected by their work or business.

Those who employ five or more employees should keep a formal record of any Significant Findings and remedial measures that have, or may need to be, taken.    

Suitable and sufficient

Whilst the legislation does not define suitable and sufficient it is generally considered that a risk assessment should incorporate the following five steps:

1. Identify the fire risks arising from or in connection with work  

Attention   should be paid to sources of ignition, sources of fuel and work processes. This will help you identify all the fire hazards and risks in your premises.

2. Identify the location of people at significant risk in case of fire

Where a fire to occur, the greatest danger would be the spread of smoke, heat and fire through the premises.

If this happens, the main risk to people is from the smoke and products of combustion, which can very quickly incapacitate those escaping.    

It will therefore, be necessary to identify the areas that persons will frequent, whether they are employees, customers, visiting contractors etc.

3. Evaluate the risks     

  • Once the hazards and the people at risk have been identified, you must assess the effect of any particular hazards, taking account of any existing control measures already in place. Once this has been done, you must decide if any further control measures are needed in order to reduce the risk to an acceptable level.    
  • Are existing fire safety measures within the premises adequate?   
  • Are sources of fuel and ignition controlled?
  • Is there adequate means for detecting fire and giving warning?
  • Is there adequate means of escape in case of fire from all parts of the premises?
  • Has adequate and appropriate fire-fighting equipment been provided, and is it suitably located?
  • Is there an adequate testing and maintenance regime in place for fire precautions within the premises?
  • Have employees been adequately trained in fire safety procedures within the premises and in the use of fire-fighting equipment?

You should include details of existing control measures in your fire risk assessment.

Remember, a full understanding and evaluation of the existing control measures is essential - it is your starting point for deciding if any further action is necessary. 

Then if any areas of inadequacy are identified, an action plan must be included to show how the problem is being addressed.

This should include appropriate timescales for achieving the required level of control and specify who is responsible for the action. Each action point should be signed and dated when completed.

4. Record findings and action taken

You must record the significant findings of your risk assessment, together with details of any people that are at particular risk, where:

A licence under an enactment is in force.

An Alterations Notice under the Fire Safety Order requires it.

You are an employer and have five or more employees.

Prepare an emergency plan, inform, instruct and give training to employees in fire precautions. Have recorded evidence available for inspection by Fire Safety Inspecting Officers.

Your record must show whether the existing control measures are adequate and, if not, what further action is required to reduce the risk to an acceptable level.

For larger premises you are strongly encouraged to include a simple floor plan in your fire risk assessment. You can use the plan to record fire hazards and control measures in a simple format that is easily understood.

Remember to make sure any control measures identified or introduced remain effective by testing and maintaining them regularly.

In order to assist you in maintaining test and training records this Fire Safety Log Book may be downloaded and used.

Fire Safety Log Book

5. Keep the assessment under review

It is important to remember that fire risk assessment is a continuous process and as such must be monitored and audited.

New and existing control measures should be maintained to make sure they are still working effectively. However, if you introduce changes into your premises your original risk assessment may not address any new hazards or risk arising from them.

For this reason it is also important to review and revise your assessment regularly. Generally the review date should be every twelve months.

Employers and the self-employed are expected to take reasonable steps to help themselves identify fire risks, e.g. by looking at appropriate sources of information such as legislation, and codes of practice or by reference to a competent individual.

For small premises presenting few or simple hazards a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment can be a very straightforward process.

In many intermediate cases the fire risk assessment will need to be more sophisticated. Some areas of the assessment may require specialist advice such as in a particularly complicated building.

Large and complex premises will require the most developed and sophisticated fire risk assessments. These should include a simple floor plan, particularly where fire engineering solutions have been developed to overcome difficult fire safety issues.

Fire risk assessments must also consider all those who might be affected by the undertaking whether they are employees or others such as contractors working on site or members of the public. Particularly attention should be given to those individuals who are especially vulnerable, such as young persons, the elderly or those with disabilities.

Responsible Person(s)

In the Order "Responsible Person" means in a workplace, the employer in any other premises the person who has control of the premises (as occupier or otherwise) in connection with the carrying on by him of a trade, business or other undertaking (for profit or not), or the owner, where the person in control of the premises does not have control in connection with the carrying on by that person of a trade, business or other undertaking.

In the case of residential accommodation this may be the owner, the managing Agent or the person otherwise in control of the premises.

Often such details may be referred to in the premises lease or tenancy agreement.

Competent Person

The competent person or fire risk assessor need not possess any specific academic qualifications but should:

  • understand the relevant fire safety legislation.
  • have appropriate education, training, knowledge and experience in the principles of fire safety.
  • have an understanding of fire development and the behaviour of people in fire
  • understand the fire hazards, fire risks and relevant factors associated with occupants at special risk within the buildings of the type in question.
  • have appropriate training and/or experience in carrying out fire risk assessments.
  • identify suitable solutions and actions to address any fire safety shortfalls with appropriate timescales for completion.

Emergency Plan

You must provide an emergency plan.

This will be specific to the premises and will detail the pre-planned procedures in place for use in the event of a fire.

The emergency plan must be recorded where: 

  • A licence under an enactment is in force.
  • An Alterations Notice under the Fire Safety Order requires it.
  • You are an employer and have five or more employees.    

This must (where appropriate) include the following features:   

  • Action on discovering a fire. 
  • Warning if there is a fire.    
  • Calling the Fire & Rescue Service.    
  • Evacuation of the premises including those particularly at risk. Power/process isolation.  
  • Places of assembly and roll call.
  • Liaison with emergency services. Identification of key escape routes.
  • The firefighting equipment provided.
  • Specific responsibilities in the event of a fire. Training required.
  • Provision of information to relevant persons.

Remember to test your emergency plan by practising it and if necessary discuss it with your local emergency services.

Significant findings should include

  • the significant hazards identified in the assessment. That is, those hazards which might pose serious risk to workers or others who might be affected by the work activities if they were not properly controlled.
  • the existing control measures in place and the extent to which they control the risks (this need not replicate details of measures more fully described in works manuals etc but could refer to them)
  • the population which may be affected by these significant risks or hazards, including any groups of employees who are especially at risk.

Other Sources of information

More definitive guidance will be found in:

Fire Safety Training

East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service offer a number of training courses for the business community which aim to improve awareness and encourage delegates to give greater consideration to safety at their place of work.

Further details can be found on our Training Courses page.