Changes in Fire Safety Legislation

The Future of Fire Safety Legislation Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005

Current fire safety Laws detail employers and others' with responsibilities for people's safety if there is an out break of fire. At present there are various pieces of legislation that contain fire safety provisions, which makes it difficult for people to know what is applicable to them and their business in respect of complying with the Law.

As part of the Governments' commitment to reduce death, injury and damage caused by fire, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) has now implemented changes in fire safety Law. Existing fire safety Law will be repealed or revoked and be replaced with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (RRFSO), which has now received Parliamentary Approval (7 June 2005) and will come into force in April 2006.

The RRFSO will be a fire risk assessment based approach where the responsible person(s) for the premises must decide how to address the risks identified, while meeting certain requirements.

By adopting a fire risk assessment, the responsible person(s) will need to look at how to prevent fire from occurring in the first place, by removing or reducing hazards and risks (ignition sources) and then at the precautions to ensure that people are adequately protected if a fire were still to occur. Therefore the main emphasis of the changes will be to move towards fire prevention.

The fire risk assessment must also take into consideration the effect a fire may have on anyone in or around your premises plus neighbouring property. The building fire risk assessment will also need to be kept under regular review.

The RRFSO will apply to virtually all non-domestic properties, including voluntary organisations and will be subject to monitoring and where appropriate enforcement by the Local Authority Fire Service (LAFS).

Overall the RRFSO is intended to be less burdensome and clearer.

Summary of RRFSO

All existing fire legislation will be repealed or revoked, which includes the Fire Precautions Act 1971, the amended 1997 Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations plus 100 other pieces of fire related legislation.

Fire certificates will be abolished and no longer issued.

Responsible person(s) will be responsible for fire safety. They must conduct a fire risk assessment regardless of the size of the risk.

The identified responsible person(s) would take full corporate liability.

Extended scope of consideration now to include property safety, fire fighter safety and the environment around the site. The responsible person would have a duty to protect all risks.

Unlike the amended 1997 Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations, the RRFSO places emphasis on business continuity and containing and preventing the spread of small fires.

Protection is explicitly extended to all occupants, which would include employees, visitors, contractors and passers-by who would all have to be considered in the fire risk assessment.

What are the implications for business?

When the RRFSO comes into force, building fire safety will be solely risk assessment led, therefore all businesses regardless of size will have to conduct a comprehensive fire risk assessment to enusre;

The elimination or reduction of risks (ignition sources),

There are suitable means of detecting & raising the alarm in the event of fire,

There are adequate emergency escape routes & exits, There are appropriate type & sufficient quantities of fire extinguishers,

There are the correct type & sufficient quantities of fire signs & notices,

There are provisions for the correct maintenance of installed fire equipment,

Suitable provisions for the protection of Fire Service personnel,

That occupants receive the appropriate instruction / training in, e.g. actions to be taken in the event of fire and fire evacuation drills,

Who is the responsible person(s)?

Employer with control of a workplace,

Failing that or in addition;

Person with overall management of a building, Occupier of premises, Owner of premises (i.e. empty buildings), Landlords (multi occupied buildings).

Where can I get help?

The Government intend to have guidance documents available in support of the RRFSO by early 2006.

Peter Jolley Fire Safety Advisor.

Fire safety services providing cost effective solutions and services in fire protection for the business community.

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