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Fire safety law

The Fire Safety Order covers general fire precautions and other fire safety duties which are needed to protect 'relevant persons' in case of fire. 

What fire law applies to my business premises?

The Fire Safety Order affects all non-domestic premises in England and Wales. Its full and correct title is the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, commonly known as the Fire Safety Order (FSO). The Fire Safety Order came into force on 1st of October 2006 and replaced over 100 areas of existing fire safety legislation. Almost all fire safety related legislation is now contained within this one single Order.

The Fire Safety Order covers general fire precautions and other fire safety duties which are needed to protect 'relevant persons' in case of fire. The Fire Safety Order requires fire precautions to be put in place 'where necessary' and to the extent that it is reasonable and practicable.

Responsibility for complying with the Fire Safety Order rests with the 'responsible person'. In a work place this is principally the employer and then 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 will be responsible

The responsible person 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 and must include consideration of any dangerous substance likely to be on the premises. The risk assessment will help identify risks that can be removed or reduced and to decide the extent of the general fire precautions necessary. If 5 or more are employed (or a license is in force for the premises) then the significant findings of the risk assessment must be recorded.

Who does it affect?

If you have some control over a premises e.g. employer, owner, managing agent, landlord or occupier, you may be designated as a 'responsible person' under the Fire Safety Order for fire safety matters within and in the vicinity of the premises. Responsibility for complying with the Order rests with the 'responsible person'.

In a workplace the 'responsible person' is more than likely the employer or any other person who may have control of any part of the premises, e.g. the occupier or owner. If there is more than one responsible person in any type of premises (e.g. a multi-occupied complex), each must take all reasonable steps to co-operate and co-ordinate with each other.

Where does the Fire Safety Order apply?

The Fire Safety Order applies to virtually all premises and covers nearly every type of building and structure, for example:

  • Offices and shops
  • Factories, warehouses and other industrial premises
  • Premises that provide care, such as residential and nursing homes
  • Community halls, places of worship and the like
  • Common areas of flats and Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO's)
  • Pubs, clubs and restaurants
  • Schools and other educational establishments
  • Hotels, guest houses, bed and breakfast premises

The Fire Safety Order excludes domestic premises occupied by a single family group.

What do I have to do?

You should carry out a fire risk assessment and act on any findings reported. A Fire Risk Assessment will help you identify risks that can be reduced and to decide the nature of the general fire precautions you need to take to protect people against the fire risks that remain.

If you employ 5 or more persons the significant findings MUST be recorded. If you employ less than 5 persons it is still recommended that you conduct an assessment and record the findings, so that in the event of an audit by the Fire Authority, due diligence can be demonstrated by a written record.

Further help

If having read this guide you are in any doubt about how fire safety law applies to you, contact us at the fire safety office at your local fire and rescue service.