Legislation 2017-12-15T11:03:08+00:00

Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005

Regulatory Reform (Fire safety) Order 2005

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 applies in England and Wales. It covers general fire precautions and other fire safety duties which are needed to protect ‘relevant persons’ in case of fire in and around most ‘premises’.

The Order requires fire precautions to be put in place ‘where necessary’ and to the extent that it is reasonable and practicable in the circumstances of the case.

Responsibility for complying with the Order rests with the ‘responsible person’. In a workplace, this is the employer and/or any other person who may have control of any part of the premises, e.g. the manager or owner. In all other premises the person or people in control of the premises will be responsible. If there is more than one responsible person in any type of premises (eg; a multi-occupied complex), all must take reasonable steps to co-operate and co-ordinate with each other.

If you are the responsible person you 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, such as disabled people; those who you know have special needs and children, and must include consideration of any dangerous substance liable to be on the premises. Your fire risk assessment will help you identify risks that can be removed or reduced and to decide the nature and extent of the general fire precautions you need to take.

If your organisation employs five or more people, the premises are licensed or an alterations notice is in force, you must record the significant findings of the assessment. It is good practice to record your significant findings in any case.

The order applies to virtually all premises and covers nearly every type of building, structure and open space.

For example, it applies to:

  • offices and shops;
  • premises that provide care, including care homes and hospitals;
  • community halls, places of worship and other community premises;
  • the shared areas of properties several households live in (housing laws may also apply);
  • pubs, clubs and restaurants;
  • schools and sports centers;
  • tents and marquees;
  • hotels and hostels; and
  • factories and warehouses.

It does not apply to people’s private homes, including individual flats in a block or house.

You must:

• carry out a fire risk assessment identifying any possible dangers and risks; consider who may be especially at risk;

  • provide appropriate information, instruction and training to your staff;

• get rid of or reduce the risk from fire as far as is reasonably possible and provide general fire precautions to deal with any possible risk left;

• take other measures to make sure there is protection if flammable or explosive materials are used or stored;

• create a plan to deal with any emergency and, in most cases, keep a record of your findings; and

• review your findings when necessary

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:

  • the employer for those parts of premises staff may go to;
  • the managing agent or owner for shared parts of premises or shared fire safety equipment such as fire-warning systems or sprinklers;
  • the occupier, such as self-employed people or voluntary organisations if they have any control; or
  • any other person who has some control over a part of the premises.  Although in many premises the responsible person will be obvious, there may be times when a number of people have some responsibility.

If you are the responsible person, you must make sure you carry out a fire risk assessment although you can pass this task to some other competent person. However, you will still be responsible, in law, for meeting the order.

The responsible person, either on their own or with any other responsible person, must as far as is reasonably practical make sure that everyone on the premises, or nearby, can escape safely if there is a fire.

This is different from previous legislation in that you must consider everyone who might be on your premises, whether they are employees, visitors or members of the public, for example, at an open-air entertainment venue.  You should pay particular attention to people who may have a disability or anyone who may need special help.

The order says that you must manage any fire-risk in your premises.  Fire authorities no longer issue fire certificates and those previously in force will have no legal status.

You must still carry out a fire risk assessment but any fire certificates you have may be useful as a good starting point.

If your premises have been designed and built in line with modern building regulations (and are being used in line with those regulations), your structural fire precautions should be acceptable.  You will still need to carry out a fire-risk assessment and make sure that you keep up all fire precautions and maintenance routines.

Fire authorities will be the main agency responsible for enforcing all fire safety legislation in non domestic premises. They will target their resources and inspections at those premises that present the highest risk. All fire authorities will continue to look into complaints about fire safety, carry out investigations after fires where poor fire safety management is discovered and may carry out targeted inspections.

If you do not meet the order, the fire authority will provide practical advice or, if the risk is serious, a formal notice. Except in the most serious cases, the fire authority will work with you to achieve a satisfactory level of fire safety If there is a very serious risk to life, the fire authority can issue a notice preventing the premises being used for certain things

(such as sleeping), or preventing people from using all or part of the premises. This power is shared with housing authorities in properties which several households live in.

In all cases you will have a right of appeal, both informally and formally

An informal appeal, normally to a more experienced fire safety manager, can sometimes identify a different way of meeting the order.

If this is not successful, you can appeal formally to a magistrate. You can also agree with the enforcing authority to ask for a formal decision from the Secretary of State on a solution if you cannot agree about technical issues.