Fire safety legislation in the UK is enacted differently under the three jurisdictions of England & Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Requirements (in terms of where they apply and what people have to do to comply) across the jurisdictions are very similar however, with the overriding purpose being to reduce death, injury and damage caused by fire.
The legislation introduced across the three jurisdictions was intended to simplify previous fire legislation and in particular remove the overlap created by the previous regulatory framework.
Other specific objectives include:
The legislation applies to virtually all premises and covers nearly every type of building, structure and open space, including, for example:
In England and Wales, common parts of flats and houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) are also included, but this is not the case in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Broadly, the law does not apply to the underground parts of mines or off-shore installation. It also doesn’t apply to anything that flies, floats or runs on wheels unless it is static and being used like a building, e.g. work in dry dock.
In considering the information provided below, it is important to recognise that impact of other regulations on premises fire safety, including, for example, relevant Housing Acts, Buildings Regulations, The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations (CDM), The Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations (DSEAR), The Control of Major Accident Hazards (COMAH) Regulations, The Petroleum (Consolidation) Regulations, The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations, The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations and The Electricity at Work Regulations.
The person responsible (or duty holder) for fire safety is anyone who has, to any significant degree:
In many instances this will be a company or other organisation. The person responsible or duty holder could therefore be:
They are responsible for the safety of any person who is, or may be, lawfully on the premises, and any person in the immediate vicinity of the premises who is at risk from a fire on the premises (excluding a fire-fighter who is carrying out duties in relation to a function of a fire and rescue authority).
In many cases, responsibility may be shared between several people but it is important to highlight that the management of fire safety in a premises is not the responsibility of the fire service or any other statutory body.
More specifically, the responsible person or duty holder must:
The assessment must consider any dangerous substances that may be on the premises.
In addition, the responsible person or duty holder must:
It is also important to highlight your employees responsibility to co-operate with you to ensure the workplace is safe from fire and its effects, and to avoid doing anything that will place themselves or others at risk. 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, your 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.
After the fire risk assessment has been completed and any consequential remedial works carried out, it will be necessary to establish arrangements for periodic review. You will also need to review the assessment if significant changes are made to the workplace, premises, activities or personnel.