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Fire risk assessments

Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 is the biggest overhaul in fire safety legislation in decades.

The Order, which came into force on 1st October 2006 firmly places the responsibility for ensuring fire does not put lives at risk with the
‘responsible person’, which in most cases will be the employer.
At the same time, it allows the enforcing authority to make sure that the legislation is complied with and sets penalties if it is not.

Summary of the 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All previous fire legislation has been repealed.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.
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.

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