Legislation – The Fire Safety Order 2005
UK Fire safety law changed in October 2006 with the introduction of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. Most fires are preventable and those responsible for the workplace are expected to take reasonable steps to reduce the risk of fire and to ensure people can escape safely in the event of a fire. This page gives guidance on compliance with the fire safety order and simple and practical advice for fire risk assessments of small and medium-sized premises.
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 requires those responsible for the workplace or building to take appropriate steps to ensure that, so far as reasonably practicable, the general fire precautions in the premises adequately protects everyone who may be at risk of fire within the building. The Order applies to virtually all buildings with the exception of people’s private homes.
What are the main requirements under the Fire Safety order?
- carry out a fire risk assessment
- consider people who may be especially at risk
- as far as is reasonably practicable, remove or reduce the risk from fire and provide general fire precautions for any remaining risk
- take measures to protect people where flammable or explosive materials are used or stored
- create an emergency plan
- record your findings
- review your findings
Carrying out a fire risk assessment
Where the responsible person does not have the necessary competence, they can appoint a fire risk assessor to undertake the fire risk assessment for them. However, the responsible person must ensure they are suitably qualified and experienced before undertaking the assessment.
A typical 5-step approach to carrying out a fire risk assessment generally follows the steps below;
Step 1 – Identify the hazards within your premises
You need to identify:
- sources of ignition such as naked flames, heaters or some commercial processes
- sources of fuel such as built-up waste, display materials, textiles or overstocked products
- sources of oxygen such as air conditioning, medical or commercial oxygen supplies
Step 2 – Identify people at risk
You will need to identify those people who may be especially at risk such as:
- people working near to fire dangers
- people working alone or in isolated areas
- young persons
- the elderly or infirm and people with impaired mobility
Step 3 – Evaluate, remove, reduce and protect from risk
Evaluate the level of risk in your premises.
You should remove or reduce any fire hazards where possible and reduce any risks you have identified. For example, you should:
- replace highly flammable materials with less flammable ones
- separate flammable materials from sources of ignition
- implement a no-smoking policy
Once the risks have been reduced as far as possible, any remaining risk should be assessed and, where necessary, fire safety measures implemented to ensure a reasonable level of fire safety is provided.
Step 4 – Record, plan, inform, instruct, and train
- Record any major findings and action you have taken
- Discuss and work with other responsible people
- Prepare an emergency plan
- Inform and instruct relevant people
- Provide training
Step 5 — Review
- Review your fire-risk assessment regularly
- Make changes where necessary
Enforcing the Fire Safety Order
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 has been in force since October 2006, however, increasing numbers of breaches of the fire safety order are being prosecuted in the courts resulting in substantial fines, costs and in some instances, imprisonment.
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