When considering fire prevention, good management of fire safety is essential to ensure that fires are unlikely to occur; that if they do occur they are likely to be controlled or contained quickly, effectively and safely; or that, if a fire does occur and grow, everyone in your premises is able to escape to a place of total safety easily and quickly.

A fire risk assessment will ensure that your fire safety procedures, fire prevention measures, and fire precautions (plans, systems and equipment) are all in place and working properly, as well as identifying any issues that need attention.

The aims of the fire risk assessment are:

  • To identify fire hazards.
  • To reduce the risk of those hazards causing harm to be as low as reasonably practicable.
  • To decide what physical fire precautions and management arrangements are necessary to ensure the safety of people in your premises if a fire does start.

We will provide you with a detailed written report of our findings, complete with an action plan that will go a long way to ensure that your company is complying with the law.

The Law requires that the owner, user, or occupier of the premises is a person who should carry out a fire risk assessment to determine the preventive and protective measures that are required. You could do this yourself, you could get an employee to do it or you could contract it to an outside organisation. However this is done, it must be by a competent person. They need a good understanding of:

  • Fire safety principles
  • Fire safety law and
  • Risk assessment methodology

Most small to medium sized organisations have not got and cannot afford their own specialist. Combat Fire offer a professional risk  fire risk assessment service that fully complies with the legal requirements. We take an organised and methodical look at your premises, the activities carried on there and assesses the likelihood of a fire starting, causing harm to those in and around the premises.

In addition to the fire risk assessment, Combat Fire also offers fire awareness and training courses, helping your staff to deal with a fire situation in a safe manner.

The Law (England and Wales)

In 2006 most fire safety legislation was consolidated into one piece of legislation, the Fire Safety Order. This applies to virtually all non-domestic premises. It requires the owner, user, or occupier to carry out a fire risk assessment to determine what preventive and protective measures are required and ensure that those measures are implemented.

When the Fire Officer calls he will ask to see certain documents and records. The responsible person must keep these documents and records if:

  • Five or more people are employed in the organisation (including part time and voluntary workers)
  • The premises are subject to a statutory licence (e.g. petroleum, fireworks, caravan site, entertainment and HMO) or
  • There is an alterations notice in force

The documents would include:

  • Fire Risk Assessment
  • Emergency Plan
  • Arrangements (management procedures connected with fire safety)
  • Training Records
  • Maintenance Records

Having looked at the documentation and interviewed the responsible person the Fire Officer will look at the premises; compare the documentation to the premises and ensure the premises are safe.

If it is a ‘goodwill’ visit and the Fire Officer finds things wrong he may issue an improvement notice, but if it is serious he may issue a prohibition notice (close down the premises) and/or prosecute the responsible person. If the visit follows a fire incident and there is something wrong, those within the Company ultimately responsible for the implementation of fire safety can look forward to a prosecution followed by fines and costs. A prison sentence is unlikely but is a possibility.

Three simple steps to keeping your people safe and the fire office away:

  1. Fire risk assessment: as well as being a legal requirement it will also identify any areas were things are going wrong or could be improved and gives you a chance to put it right.
  2. Training: general fire awareness training for all employees and special training for those with special responsibility such as Fire Wardens
  3. Maintenance: make sure that fire safety equipment and systems are kept in top condition

Provided all the above is delivered by a competent person, completed and recorded you are most of the way to full compliance.

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 is sometimes referred to as the Fire Safety Order, FSO or RRO. It repealed The Fire Precautions Act 1971 and revoked The Fire Precautions (workplace) Regulation 1997. “Fire Certificates” have no legal relevance.

The Law for Scotland and Northern Ireland is expressed differently. The wording of the law is different but the requirements are very similar to those in England and Wales.

Definitions

The responsible person is someone having control of the building and/or premises, as occupier or otherwise, or any person delegated by the person having control of the building and/or premises to be responsible for the implementation of fire safety legislation. On small premises there may be only one responsible person but on larger premises there may be several, such as where there are several shifts or in multi-tenanted buildings.

A Competent Person is anyone who is, in any way, involved in fire safety and should be competent in fire safety. They are described in BS5839 Part 1 : 2013 as a person with the necessary training and experience with access to the requisite tools, information and equipment and capable of carrying out a defined task.