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Library: Legislation: Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order



   GB, UK & European :
   ADR and CDG
   Safety Sign Reg’s
   PER and PED
   PSSR
   Old Legislation

England & Wales :
   Fire Safety Order
   Health Act
   RRFSO

Scotland :
   Fire Safety Reg’s
   Fire (Scotland) Act
   Smoking Act

Introduction

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (“Fire Safety Order” or “RRFSO”) took effect in England & Wales on 1st October 20061. Please refer to the Fire Safety (Scotland) Regulations 2006 for the equivalent Scottish legislation.

This document aims to highlight some of the key parts of the Fire Safety Order and is broken down into the following sections:

Throughout, references to the pertinent legislation have been included as footnotes. The reader is referred to the full text of the Regulations (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”)); and
  • tents and other moveable structures,

but excluding domestic premises occupied as a single private dwelling2.

Legal Duty Holder(s)

The Order defines a responsible person, with whom responsibility for complying with the Order rests. For shorthand, we’ll refer to this person (or persons) simply as the legal duty holder.

In a workplace, this is the employer3 and any other person who may have control of any part of the premises, such as the occupier or owner. In all other premises the legal duty holder or people in control of the premises will be responsible4. If there is more than one legal duty holder 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.

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.5.

The nature of the Fire Safety Order is such that responsibility is hard to avoid - indeed there may be many people (individuals, companies or otherwise) that all have some responsibilities under the Order. 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 Order is not adhered to (see Offences, below).

Third-Party Fire-Safety Services and ‘Safety Assistance’

The Regulations stipulate that the legal duty holder must nominate one or more competent persons to assist in the undertaking of fire safety measures6. Of course, in a great many cases, such competent persons will, by necessity, be external third parties that provide fire safety services (such as Anderstore).

In this respect, it is essential to note that it is the duty of the legal duty holder to ensure that any such third party is competent (as set out below). If the legal duty holder failed to nominate third-parties meeting these competency requirements, the legal duty holder would be in breach of the Regulations.

Definition of Competency

The definition of competency is of key importance in the Regulations.

The Regulations define competency as having “sufficient training and experience or knowledge and other qualities” to enable the task in question to be properly undertaken7.

Risk Assessments

This Order requires the legal duty holder to undertake a “suitable and sufficient” fire risk assessment8 and for the legal duty holder to also ensure that:

  • the significant findings of the assessment together with all measures taken or to be taken must be recorded where there are five or more people employed9.
  • the fire risk assessment must be reviewed regularly and, additionally, whenever there is reason to suspect that it is no longer valid or where there has been a significant change10.

The legal duty holder must also keep further records in connection with fire safety arrangements made, amongst other things11.

Provision & Maintenance of Fire Fighting Equipment

The Regulations require that the legal duty holder ensures that:

  • the relevant premises are “equipped with appropriate means for fighting fire”12; and
  • any such equipment is “subject to a suitable system of maintenance and are maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair”13.

The British Standard BS 5306-8 lays down appropriate levels for the provision of portable fire extinguishers and the British Standard BS 5306-3 lays down a suitable system for their maintenance.

Normally, the legal duty holder would be required under the Regulations to ensure the above measures were properly implemented through the use of a nominated third party (such as Anderstore) that satisfies the above competency requirements.

Employee Training, & ‘Fire Marshals/Wardens’

The Regulations require the legal duty holder to ensure that fire safety training for all employees:

  • is adequate, suitable and sufficient14;
  • is provided to employees on starting15;
  • is provided where there are new or increased risks16;
  • repeated “periodically” where appropriate17.

Additionally, the Regulations also requires the legal duty holder to nominate competent persons to “take measures for fire-fighting” and to further ensure that they are adequately trained18. Persons in these roles are often appropriately trained competent employees and are often referred to as ‘fire marshals’ or ‘fire wardens’.

Means of Escape & Emergency Lighting

The Regulations requires that the legal duty holder ensures that:

  • relevant premises have appropriate emergency routes and exits provided19 and maintained;
  • such routes and exits “must be provided with emergency lighting of adequate intensity in the case of failure of their normal lighting”20; and
  • any such emergency lighting is required to be “subject to a suitable system of maintenance and are maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair”13.

Signage

The Regulations require that the legal duty holder ensures that signage must be used to indicate any “non-automatic fire-fighting equipment”21 and emergency routes and exits22 where so necessary. Such signage must also meet the requirements of the Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996 which still also apply in Great Britain.

Provision & Maintenance of Fire Alarm Systems

The Regulations require that the legal duty holder ensures that:

  • relevant premises “are, to the extent that it is appropriate, equipped with…fire detectors and alarms”12; and
  • any such equipment is required to be “subject to a suitable system of maintenance and are maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair”13.

As a general rule, all but the very simplest, small, single-storey, open-plan premises with minimal risks, adequate exits, adequate exit routes and no special considerations (e.g. sleeping residents, noise) require some form of electrical fire detection and/or warning system.

The British Standard BS 5839-1:2002+A2:2008 lays down appropriate guidance for the design, installation, commissioning and maintenance of such systems.

Normally, the legal duty holder would be required under the Regulations to ensure the above measures were properly implemented through the use of a nominated third party (such as Anderstore) that satisfies the above competency requirements.

Information for Employees, Contractors & the Parents of Children Employees

The Regulations require that the legal duty holder must ensure that certain relevant information is provided to employees, contractors & the parents of children-employees23. Depending upon the circumstances, this information includes details of risks, fire-safety measures, procedures, etc. so as to ensure safety.

Enforcement

The Order sets out24 the duties of the various enforcing authorities (typically the Fire & Rescue Service25) 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 for26; and
  • “have regard to such guidance as the Secretary of State may give”27.

The combined effect of these elements is to give significant statutory weight to the CLG’s Guidance, which “has been approved by Ministers and has official status”28.

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 Order29 with penalties extending up to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years and/or an unlimited fine30.

Timescale

The Fire Safety Order is already law, having taken full effect from 1st October 20061. It is the duty of the legal duty holder to ensure full compliance with the Order.

Further Information

The Fire Safety Order is also sometimes referred to as the RRFSO, the FSO and the RRO.

More information on this subject can be found from the CLG in their “Fire safety law and guidance documents for business” section.

Click here for the full web-text of the Order, or here for the full print-version of the Order 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. Article 1 of Part 1, paragraph (3) of the Fire Safety Order, as amended by Section 2 of  The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Subordinate Provisions Order 2006.
  2. Article 6 of Part 1 of the Fire Safety Order.
  3. Article 3 of Part 1, paragraph (a) of the Fire Safety Order.
  4. Article 3 of Part 1, paragraph (b) of the Fire Safety Order.
  5. Schedule 1 of the Interpretation Act 1978.
  6. Article 18 of Part 2, paragraph (1) of the Fire Safety Order, although refer to paragraphs (6) and (7).
  7. Article 13 of Part 2, paragraph (4), Article 15 of Part 2, paragraph (3), Article 18 of Part 2, paragraph (5), (6) and (7) of the Fire Safety Order.
  8. Article 9 of Part 2, paragraph (1) of the Fire Safety Order.
  9. Article 9 of Part 2, paragraph (6) and (7) of the Fire Safety Order.
  10. Article 9 of Part 2, paragraph (3) of the Fire Safety Order.
  11. Article 11 of Part 2, paragraph (2) of the Fire Safety Order.
  12. Article 13 of Part 2, paragraph (1)(a) of the Fire Safety Order.
  13. Article 17 of Part 2, paragraph (1) of the Fire Safety Order.
  14. Article 21 of Part 2, paragraphs (1) and (2)(a) of the Fire Safety Order.
  15. Article 21 of Part 2, paragraph (1)(a) of the Fire Safety Order.
  16. Article 21 of Part 2, paragraph (1)(b) of the Fire Safety Order.
  17. Article 21 of Part 2, paragraph (2)(b) of the Fire Safety Order.
  18. Article 13 of Part 2, paragraphs (3)(a) and (3)(b) of the Fire Safety Order.
  19. Article 14 of Part 2 of the Fire Safety Order.
  20. Article 14 of Part 2, paragraph (2)(h) of the Fire Safety Order.
  21. Article 13 of Part 2, paragraph (1)(b) of the Fire Safety Order.
  22. Article 14 of Part 2, paragraph (2)(g) of the Fire Safety Order.
  23. Articles 19 and 20 of Part 2 of the Fire Safety Order.
  24. Article 26 of Part 3 of the Fire Safety Order.
  25. As set out at Article 25 of Part 3 of the Fire Safety Order.
  26. Article 26 of Part 3, paragraph (1) of the Fire Safety Order.
  27. Article 26 of Part 3, paragraph (2) of the Fire Safety Order.
  28. Inside front cover, CLG’s series of guides: “Fire Risk Assessment”.
  29. The offences are laid down in Article 32 of the Fire Safety Order.
  30. Article 32 of Part 4, paragraph (3)(b) of the Fire Safety Order.



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