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Library: Legislation: Fire (Scotland) Act 2005



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Introduction

The The Fire (Scotland) Act 2005 (“FSA”) came into effect after the Fire (Scotland) Bill was passed by the Scottish Parliament on 23rd February and received Royal Assent on 1st April 2005.

Part 3 of the Act introduces a new fire safety regime in Scotland which was brought into force with effect from 1st October 2006 (see “timescale” below). The other parts of the act had already been bought into force on 2nd August 2005.

This document seeks only to highlight some of the key parts of this Act alone and is broken down into the following sections:

Of more practical significance are the Fire Safety (Scotland) Regulations 2006, which build upon this Act as mentioned in Power to Make Regulations, below. Please refer to the Fire Safety (Scotland) Regulations 2006 page for more useful guidance.

Throughout, references to the pertinent legislation have been included as footnotes. The reader is referred to the full text of the Act (available here from the Government’s Official UK legislation site) for full details.

Relevant Premises

‘Relevant premises’ are, broadly speaking, the vast majority of premises, including:

  • shops, offices, factories & warehouses;
  • pubs, clubs and restaurants;
  • schools, sports centres, community halls & places of worship;
  • hotels, hostels, hospitals and care homes;
  • communal areas in shared housing (including houses in multiple occupation (“HMO”) requiring a licence); and
  • tents and other moveable structures,

but excluding domestic premises1.

Legal Duty Holder(s)

The act sets out the parties with that have responsibilities under it. A relevant employer is always a legal duty holder in this context2, as is a person that “has control to any extent of relevant premises3 (including as occupier, not just as owner). For shorthand, we’ll refer to this person (or persons) simply as the legal duty holder.

Please note that that the term ‘person’ is a legal term in this context and, in addition to referring to an individual, it may equally refer to an incorporated company, a partnership, etc.

The nature of this act is such that responsibility is hard to avoid - indeed there may be many people (individuals, companies or otherwise) that all have some responsibilities under this act. It is perfectly conceivable that a company-landlord, his owners, his key employees, a company-tenant and the tenant’s owners and key employees may all be in jeopardy if the Regulations are not adhered to (see Offences, below).

Risk Assessments

This act requires the legal duty holder to undertake a fire risk assessment4. More detailed requirements in respect of these fire risk assessments (including the need to review and record such assessments) will be laid down in the forthcoming Fire Safety (Scotland) Regulations 2006, made under the powers discussed below.

Power to Make Regulations

This act also gives Scottish Ministers’ power to make regulations about risk assessments and fire safety5, including in the following areas

  • provision and maintenance of firefighting equipment
  • employee training
  • provision and maintenance of fire alarm systems
  • means of escape
  • keeping of records in relation to fire safety

These powers were first used to lay down more stringent requirements in the Fire Safety (Scotland) Regulations 2006.

Enforcement

The Act sets out6 the duties of the various enforcing authorities (typically the Fire & Rescue Service7) in relation to enforcement. These duties include statutory responsibilities requiring them to:

  • enforce the Order (and any regulations made under it) in relation to the premises that they have responsibility for8; and
  • “have regard to any guidance given by the Scottish Ministers”9.

The combined effect of these elements is to give significant statutory weight to the Scottish Government’s Guidance, which “constitute guidance given by the Scottish Ministers”10.

Further information on this guidance, along with links to the guides themselves, can be found in our Government Guides section.

Offences

There are many new offences in relation to the Act11 with penalties extending up to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years and/or an unlimited fine12.

Timescale

The Fire (Scotland) Act 2005 is already law, with Part 3 having taken full effect from 1st October 2006 and the other parts previously having taken effect from 2nd August 2005. It is now the duty of the legal duty holder to ensure full compliance with the Act.

General

More information on this subject can be found from the Scottish Government in their fire & rescue services section.

Click here for the full text of the Act available from the Government’s Official UK legislation site.

Should you wish for any further information under this subject, please feel free to contact us.

Footnotes & References

  1. As laid out in section 78 of this act.
  2. Section 53 of part 3 of this act.
  3. Section 54 of part 3 of this act.
  4. Sections 53 and 54 of part 3 of this act.
  5. Including sections 57 and 58 of this act.
  6. Section 61 of this act.
  7. Section 61, paragraph (9) and Section 6 of this act.
  8. Section 61, paragraph (1) of this act.
  9. Section 61, paragraph (2) of this act.
  10. Chapter 3, Scottish Government’s series of guides: “Practical Fire Safety Guidance”. NB References and text may vary from guide to guide.
  11. The offences are laid down in Chapter 4 at sections 72 to 74 of this act.
  12. Section 72, paragraph (5)(b) of this act.



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