Fire Safety Order

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New Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order

The New Fire Safety Order saw all previous Fire Safety Legislation repealed from October 2006

The Fire Safety Order  requires all UK businesses to do a fire risk assessment

A Fire Safety Order, under the Regulatory Reform Act 2001 was published in 2005. It has now replaced all previous fire legislation since 1 October 2006. The Fire Safety Order now requires employers to carry out a fire risk assessment.

Firstly - Some Useful Links


Read a copy of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 here      

Download the government Guidance Notes here

Previous UK fire safety laws were scattered across more than 100 different pieces of legislation, all with many implications on businesses, and some with overlaps between their requirements. This was often confusing to businesses as they attempted to comply with this raft of legislation. The aim of the Fire Safety Order - that was introduced under the Regulatory Reform Order - was to ‘simplify, rationalise and consolidate existing legislation’.

Summary of fire safety order

  • All previous fire legislation has been repealed
  • Fire certificates will be no longer issued.
  • Each individual company will be responsible for their own fire safety. The employer must conduct a fire risk assessment regardless of the size of the risk. The identified responsible person would therefore take full corporate liability.
  • If five or more people are employed, this risk assessment must be documented.
  • 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.
  • Unlike the Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations, the Fire Safety Order places emphasis on business continuity and containing and preventing the spread of small fires. The effectiveness of fire extinguishers is clearly recognised as a major provision in doing just this.
  • Protection is explicitly extended to all occupants and not just employees. Visitors, contractors or passers-by also have to be considered in the risk assessment.
  • Fire fighters are to have greater authority to gain entry to premises and remove samples after a fire.
    What are the implications for business?
  • With building fire safety being solely risk assessment led, the government believes the removal of fire certificates will save businesses £1.7m per year. The long term saving if all businesses carry out a fire risk assessment could be around £110 million based on a reduction of workplace fires.
  • Overall the legislation will be less burdensome and clearer, with the fire brigade reinforcing the Safety Order’s requirements.

Who is responsible?

Employer with control of a workplace, failing that…

  • Person with overall management of a building
  • Occupier of premises
  • Owner of premises (i.e. empty buildings)
  • Whilst other people like landlords have some control, the primary responsibility rest with employer
  • The responsible person will be held accountable. Under the Order he will be strongly be advised to nominate a competent supplier, one that can demonstrate it has ‘the appropriate skills and experience’. Both or either party may be held responsible at the time of inspection or post incident.

Whilst renewing the focus on the fire risk assessments and training the Order will state that fire brigades can advise on but not carry out fire risk assessments.

Timings

Commencement date: 1 October 2006

where can I get further information?

The DCLG are producing guidance documents to support UK business and help them understand their responsibilities.  These are free to download from the DCLG website, or can be purchased from HMSO for a nominal cost.

Website Links

Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG)

Click here to read the guidance notes