Civil law

UK Fire Safety Law: Everything You Need To Know

Every year, there are roughly twenty thousand commercial fires around the United Kingdom. UK Fire Safety Law refers to the fire safety regulations applying to England and Wales, meant to safeguard individuals and property against the occurrence of such fires.

fire safety

The Fire Safety Order Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 is the main reference point for all the fire safety regulations used in these countries.

The regulations under the above legislation apply to a variety of properties used for non-domestic applications; however, some exceptions exist.

According to the regulations, it is upon the “responsible person” to ensure that steps are taken to prevent fires as well as the occurrence of any injuries or fatalities in the event of a fire.

Read on below to find out more about UK Fire Safety Legislation, and how it affects you.

Scope Of Coverage

The above mentioned law applies to all types of commercial buildings, premises, structures and open spaces. Some examples of the properties covered here include schools, houses of worship, community centers, offices, hostels, restaurants, warehouses and factories among others.

The provisions of the fire safety laws in the UK do not apply to private homes; including individual flats in a house or block. It however applies to common areas in flats and houses in multiple occupation (HMO).

Responsible Parties

As previously stated, the UK fire safety law mentions those responsible for fire safety in the covered areas/structures. These “responsible parties” include anyone who is deemed to be in control of any covered property, or in control of the activities carried on within the covered properties; this includes property owners and managers and occupiers respectively. Employers, considered as a reference to companies and/or organizations, within the covered properties are also included in the list of “responsible persons”.

What Are You Responsible For?

The fire safety regulations, in addition to specifying those who are responsible for ensuring fire safety in a building goes on to mention the people they are held responsible for. These include all occupants of the premises or covered space as well as anyone else who might be directly affected by the occurrence of a fire, but is not within the covered area.

It’s worth mentioning that the responsibility to ensure fire safety may be distributed among a number of “responsible parties”, excluding any government authority or the fire and rescue service.

Duties Of Responsible Parties

As a responsible party, it is upon you to ensure that occupants of the area you control are safe from fire. This involves conducting or contracting a qualified professional to conduct a fire risk assessment, and taking the appropriate measures to minimize to reasonable levels, the risks discovered.

This involves ensuring that the premises meet fire safety requirements, as well as providing fire safety training to all occupants, e.g. employees.

What Is A Fire Risk Assessment?

A fire risk assessment details all the fire hazards and risks in a specific property. If five or more employees work within the structure in question, this mandatory requirement should be put in writing. Here are the main requirements of a fire risk assessment as per the guidelines of UK fire safety law.

Identify Fire Hazards

The first step is to identify any and all fire risks in the premises; this includes any fuels, ignition sources and oxidizing agents separate from the air.

Identify Those At Risk

Take the time to document everyone who might be at risk in the event of a fire at your premises. These include all occupants such as staff members, customers and members of the public. Be sure to also identify anyone who faces an elevated risk, such as those who might need help in a fire emergency situation.

Reduce The Prevailing Level Of Risk

This step involves taking measures to reduce the risk of fire in the premises. It involves removing unnecessary fire hazards, integrating fire safety measures including providing fire exits, providing fire safety training, installing fire detection and warning systems, coming up with a fire safety management system to ensure that fire safety systems and risk assessments are up to date, always etc.

Make A Plan

Take the time to come up with a fire safety plan and comprehensively document the findings of your fire risk assessment including the measures you have taken, and plan to take, to minimize existing risk levels.

Finally, it’s important that you review your fire assessment from time to time, or after significant changes to keep things up to date.

Penalties For Non-compliance

It is worth mention that the fire authorities are tasked with enforcing the law. They may carry out inspections upon your request or where a complaint has been lodged before or after a fire. Where any irregularities are discovered, they have the power to impose different types of penalties.