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The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 was approved by Parliament on 7 June 2005 and came into force in October 2006.

It has replaced all the existing fire safety legislation and has an impact on all employers, owners, occupiers and self-employed businesses. There are very few exceptions from having to comply with the new regulations.

It applies in England and Wales, with Northern Ireland and Scotland having their own laws. 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.

Over 100 pieces of legislation dating from 1947 – 1999 which had an impact on fire safety have been streamlined by the Government and the Fire & Rescue Services into one document. It is a much simpler piece of legislation to follow. It firmly places the responsibility for all fire safety matters with not only the employer, but also the owner of a building (who may not be the employer) and other persons who are responsible for the building.

The main effect of the changes is a move towards greater emphasis on fire prevention in all non-domestic premises, The new Fire Safety Order has shifted the emphasis of fire protection and reducing risk away from authorities and towards employers, increasing their accountability if they fail to carry out their duties. Employees and businesses will bear the full risk and responsibility for fire safety. If they fail to make an adequate assessment or to take sufficient fire safety measures they risk hefty fines, a prison sentence, or both.

Fire certificates have been abolished and will cease to have legal status.

Responsibility for complying with the Fire Safety 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, all must take all reasonable steps to work 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 the disabled and those with special needs, and must include consideration of any dangerous substance likely to be on the premises.

Your Fire Risk Assessment will help you identify risks that can be removed or reduced and to decide the nature and extent of the general fire precautions you need to take to protect people against the fire risks that remain.

If you employ five or more people or are licensed to sell alcohol you must record the significant findings of the assessment.

The local fire and rescue authority will enforce the Order in most cases.

They have the power to inspect the premises to check that the Order is being complied with. They will expect to see a copy of the Fire Risk Assessment.

If they are dissatisfied with the Fire Risk Assessment or the action being taken they may issue an enforcement notice that requires certain improvements to be made. They may issue a prohibition notice that restricts the use of all or part of the premises until improvements are made.

Failure to comply with any duty imposed by the Order is an offence that carries a fine or possibly a prison sentence. It is also very likely that the premises insurance policy will be invalid.
Bennett Kaye provide a comprehensive Fire Risk Assessment service. For full information please telephone 0845 260 5520 or email: