Frequently Asked Questions
Where does the Fire Safety Order apply?
The Fire Safety 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 centres;
- tents and marquees;
- hotels and hostels; and
- factories and warehouses.
It does not apply to peoples private homes, including individual flats in a block or house.
What are the main rules under the order?
- carry out a fire-risk assessment identifying any possible dangers and risks;
- consider who may be especially at risk;
- 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.
Who is responsible for meeting the order?
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.
How do I meet the order?
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.
I have a small pub, I don’t have any staff and do all the work myself, does the Fire Safety Order apply to me?
Yes. You are responsible not only for yourself, but also the people that enter your premises. You must ensure that there are adequate fire safety arrangements. As you hold a liquor license, you must also record the findings in a Fire Risk Assessment.
Should I wait for the Fire Safety Officer to visit and identify any remedial action?
No. Responsibility for complying with the Fire Safety Order rests with the ‘responsible person’. In a workplace, this is the employer and 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 (e.g. a multi-occupied complex), all must take all reasonable steps to co-operate and co-ordinate with each other.
I run a small group of volunteers to organise charitable events, does the Fire Safety Order apply to me?
Yes. The introduction of the Fire Safety Order has extended fire safety legislation to groups. These include the voluntary sector, charitable organisations and self-employed people.
I live in a flat; does the Fire Safety Order apply to me?
Yes. Common parts of the flats will be subject to the Fire Safety Order and as such the Responsible Person (usually the Landlord or the Managing Agent for the building), should carry out a Fire Risk Assessment and act on any of the significant findings.
How can I reduce the risk of arson in the workplace?
The most serious fire risk to your premises is from deliberate fire. If you own or manage a business then the following questions should be considered:
- Are perimeter fences secure and in a good state of repair?
- Are entrance gates kept to a minimum and well supervised?
- Is security lighting installed and operating efficiently?
- Is CCTV installed?
- Is access to the roof via drainpipes and trees denied?
- Are access doors to the building kept to the minimum compatible with the requirements for means of escape?
- Are these access doors available only from the inside (secured by a single fastening operated without the need for a key)?
- Are windows and skylights intact and secured outside of working hours?
- Do you stack combustible storage against the outer wall of the building or adjacent to the perimeter fence?
- Have there been any recent examples of vandalism and graffiti in the area?
- Is there an effective access control system?
- Has an intruder alarm been installed?
- Are critical areas of the building illuminated out of working hours?
- Is there an effective system for the secure storage of raw materials and finished products?
- Is waste material kept to a minimum and securely stored?
- Is access to flammable liquids, gases and other chemicals denied to the intruder?
- Is access to ignition sources denied to the intruder?
- Are contractors adequately supervised?
- Are you aware of any discontent amongst members of staff?
More detailed guidance on minimising arson in the workplace can be obtained from the Arson Prevention Forum.
(Text provided by Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service http://www.lancsfirerescue.org.uk/home.aspx)