Fire Safety Order 2005
The legal responsibility for ensuring compliance with fire safety and related legislation lies with the relevant company as the employing authority, where it is in control of a workplace or is the occupier of premises.
Specific responsibilities may fall solely on the company or jointly with others in shared premises under the following (non-exhaustive) list of statutory provisions:
• The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974
• The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999
• The Regulatory Reform Fire Safety Order 2005
• The Construction Design and Management Regulations 2007
• Disability Discrimination Act 2005
• Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982
• Private Places of Entertainment (Licensing) Act 1967
The Regulatory Reform Fire Safety Order 2005
This reform is aimed at simplifying the fire safety process, while at the same time placing a greater onus on businesses to carry out fire risk assessments, which means the responsibility for complying with the Fire Safety Order rests with the ‘responsible person’ (main duty Holder).
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 for a fire risk assessment.
A brief summary of the Fire Safety Reform Order
1. Fire certificates have been abolished and cease to have legal status.
2. 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 fire risk. The identified responsible person (main duty holder) would therefore take full corporate liability.
3. 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 Fire risk to neighbouring buildings and fire fighters. The responsible person would have a duty to protect the fire brigade.
4. 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.
5. Protection is explicitly extended to all occupants and not just employees. Visitors, contractors or passers-by also have to be considered in the Fire risk assessment.
6. Fire fighters are to have greater authority to gain entry to premises and remove samples after a fire.
Related article – Fire risk assessment don’t get your fingers burnt
Coming soon – action required by the employer