The Fire Safety Order. Are you covered?

What you need to know about the Fire Safety Order

* What is the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order?
* Who does it apply to?
* Who is the ‘Responsible Person’ and what are their responsibilities?
* What happens if I don’t follow the rules?
* Responsible for fire safety in Scotland or Northern Ireland?

To find the answers to these questions read on!

Fire authorities no longer issue fire certificates and those previously in force have no legal status any more.

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order (RR(FS)O) replaces most fire safety legislation with one order. It means that any person who has some level of control in premises must take steps to reduce the risk from fire, consider how to contain a fire should one break out and then also make sure people can safely escape if there is a fire.

These fire safety rules affecting all non-domestic premises in England and Wales came into force on 1 October 2006. In England and Wales, under the Order, anyone who has control of premises or anyone who has a degree of control over certain areas or systems may be a ‘Responsible Person’, for example, it could be:

* An employer
* Self-employed with business premises
* A managing agent or owner of shared premises
* A charity or voluntary organisation
* A contractor with a degree of control over any premises

The Order applies to virtually all premises and covers nearly every type of building, structure and open space. For example, it applies to:

* Offices & Shops
* Factories & Warehouses
* Sleeping Accommodation
* Residential Care Premises
* Educational Premises
* Small, Medium and Large places of assembly (including community halls, places of worship and pubs, clubs and restaurants)
* Theatres & Cinemas
* Outdoor Events
* Healthcare Premises
* Transport Premises & Facilities

It does NOT apply to private homes including individual flats in a block or house.
The Responsible Person is responsible for the safety of the employees and relevant persons by effectively managing:

* Fire risk assessments
* Fire safety policy
* Fire procedures
* Fire drills
* Means of escape
* Emergency lighting
* Fire alarms and extinguishers
* Fire doors & compartments
* Fire evacuations
* Signs & notices

The Responsible Person must keep records on risk assessments, the current fire safety policy, procedures, training and drills. The routine maintenance of all fire alarm systems and emergency lighting and extinguishers must also be recorded.
If you are the Responsible Person and you do not comply you could face two years in prison and also a heavy fine of £5,000, as well as carrying the moral burden of not appearing to care about your staff, customers and other visitors.

More information can be gained from the Communities and Local Government’s (CLG) website.