Fire safety laws and regulations are fundamental for the safety of people in the workplace, or in any building for that matter.
These laws are put in place so that those who are responsible for the health and safety of the people in a building are aware of what the possible risks are, what safety measures they are responsible for putting in place, and what the consequences are if they fall short of these expectations.
Fire safety legislation in the UK is enacted differently under the 3 jurisdictions of England and Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. However, although these jurisdictions have different legislations, they are very similar.
The full legislation of each jurisdiction is lengthy, as they should be for ensuring the safety of something as precious as someone’s life. However, if you are looking for a more digestible take on what fire safety laws you should be following, before reading the full legislation, our article below provides just that.
You can find here the full fire safety legislations:
- England and Wales – The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005;
- Scotland – The Fire (Scotland) Act 2005 and The Fire Safety (Scotland) Regulations 2006;
- Northern Ireland – The Fire and Rescue Services (Northern Ireland) Order 2006 and The Fire Safety Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2010.
As a business owner, you would be automatically classed as the ‘responsible person’, however, other employees can be designated the responsible person.
People that can be, and are most likely to be designated as the responsible person are as follows:
- An employer
- The owner
- The landlord
- An occupier
- And anyone who has control of the premises. For example, a facilities manager, building manager, or risk assessor etc.
What fire safety laws your business should be following
Within ‘The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005’ (also known as ‘RRO’), there is an extensive list of fire safety measures to take into consideration for your business.
Below we have picked out some of the most important ones that you should make sure you’re on top of for your business.
Carrying out a fire risk assessment
All businesses are legally required to carry out a fire risk assessment, no matter their size. And the fire risk assessment must be kept up to date.
If your business consists of 5 or more employees, your fire risk assessment must be a written document. And even if your business has less than 5 employees, it’s still recommended to have the fire risk assessment documented anyway, to keep a reference of.
Although it’s not a legal requirement for a fire risk assessor to carry out a fire risk assessment, it’s important that the responsible person who does carry out a fire risk assessment is capable of:
- Identifying fire hazards
- Identifying the people at risk
- Evaluating the level of risk in your premises
- Removing or reducing risks where possible
- Determining what fire safety measures/procedures are appropriate in future
Keeping a fire safety log book
You must have a fire safety log book on your premises at all times to comply with the RRO legislation. And the fire safety log book should be located in a specific place so that anyone who should have access to it knows where to find it.
A fire safety log book should give explanations of the latest requirements for your:
- Fire safety equipment (such as fire extinguishers, fire alarms, fire doors etc.)
- Fire safety procedures (such as the evacuation process, training, fire officer visits etc.)
Providing fire-fighting equipment
The RRO fire safety legislation states that appropriate fire-fighting equipment must be provided. This includes fire extinguishers, hose reels, sprinklers etc.
These types of equipment are powerful and life-saving, which is why it’s so important that the right equipment is provided.
All businesses must have fire extinguishers, but not all of them will need hose reels and sprinklers. Higher-risk businesses, such as restaurants, are more likely going to need hose reels and sprinklers to put out flames safely and efficiently.
To comply with the RRO legislation, your fire-fighting equipment must also undergo annual maintenance tests to ensure it will be effective in tackling a fire.
Installing fire safety equipment (alarm systems)
The RRO legislation in place states that as well as having the appropriate fire-fighting equipment, adequate fire detectors and alarms are also necessary to ensure the safety of the workplace.
Other fire safety equipment that is essential for complying with fire safety regulation laws is emergency lighting of adequate intensity in the case of failure of normal lighting, as stated in the RRO. This is to ensure that people on the premises can find emergency routes and exits with ease and efficiency.
Fire safety equipment such as fire detectors, alarms and emergency lighting doesn’t help with tackling a fire, but they are still essential for before and after a fire breaks out. Fire detectors/alarms warn everyone of a potential fire, so it can be dealt with before it gets out of control, and emergency lighting helps people get out of the premises safely.
Displaying fire safety signs
The RRO legislation states that all workplaces must have adequate fire safety signs in place to point people towards fire safety equipment, emergency routes and emergency exits.
Fire safety signs are used to educate employees of the fire risks present on the premises.
The fire safety signs that are required in your workplace depend on what fire safety equipment and fire safety measures are in place. However, 2 signs that every business requires as a minimum is a Fire Action Notice and an Extinguisher ID sign.
Other signs include:
- Fire exit signs
- Fire alarm call point signs
- Other fire equipment signs (Fire Blanket sign, Fire Hose sign etc.)
- Warning and Prohibition signs
Fire drills and safety training
Ensuring that all your staff know what to do in the event of a fire and carrying out fire drills is so important for good fire safety practices. Not to mention, fire safety training and fire drills are essential for complying with fire safety laws.
You should carry out a fire drill once per year, and the results from this fire drill should be recorded and kept as part of your fire safety and evacuation plan.
Also, you need to keep employees updated on any new fire risks and train any new staff in fire safety.
Consequences of not following fire safety laws
Following the fire safety legislation currently in place is important for many reasons.
Laws are put in place for a reason, and they also come with consequences if they aren’t followed thoroughly, or at all. Accidents happen, which is why minimising the risks where possible is a safety measure that shouldn’t be taken lightly.
The consequences that can occur from not following fire safety laws adequately are as follows:
- Injuries and fatalities; the prevention of injuries and deaths resulting from fires is the top reason why fire safety laws are put in place in the beginning. This is the worst-case scenario, which is why fire safety should be taken very seriously.
- Enforcement, penalty charges & prison; local fire and rescue authorities visit premises to check the fire risk assessment and prevention measures. If they believe your fire safety measures are not adequate, they can hand you an enforcement letter, you could be fined or even go to prison.
- Property damage costs; fires can easily become out of control, causing tremendous damage to your property. And of course, with great damage, comes a great price tag to fix the issues. Moreover, your local fire authorities will investigate the cause of the fire, and if it’s down to poor fire safety measures, this could invalidate any insurance you may have.
- Bad press; if a fire breaks out in your workplace due to inadequate fire safety measures, as mentioned above, your local authorities will see this in their investigation. On top of that, your local newspaper may let your neighbourhood aware of this. And if you’re not looking after the safety of your staff/visitors etc. this will reflect badly on you and your business.
Follow fire safety laws in your workplace
Now that you know the essential fire safety regulations for the UK, it’s now up to you to ensure that you keep your workplace safe from a fire.
If you are interested in staff training, hiring a professional risk assessor, essential fire safety equipment or anything else we have mentioned above, contact us here.
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