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New Fire Regulations

The FIRE SAFETY ORDER

Towards the end of 2006 a new piece of legislation came into force, replacing over 100 fire-related laws. The Fire Safety Order 2005 was a considerable change in legislation, approaching the problem of fire safety from a "risk based" point of view. The previous system, characterised by the Brigade issuing a Fire Certificate for the building, was replaced with a legal obligation for a Responsible Person to organise a Fire Risk Assessment.

The new legislation came with increased penalties for infringement, including increased fines and up to two years in prison!.

Do you need to carry out a Fire Risk Assessment? : if you are responsible for a non-domestic property with five people of more, then yes. This is an extensive subject, so we have listed some of the more common points you should know, below.

At the bottom of this page you will also find links to helpful sites that will explain more and where you can download free guides.

What is the right way to do a Fire Risk Assessment?

It should be completed by a "Competent Person", in an agreed format. The best format is to follow the British Standards PAS 79 and you would certainly expect any professionally completed assessment to meet this requirement. Copies of this standard can be purchased direct from the BSI.

What to bear in mind when organising a Fire Risk Assessment?

  1. Choose someone to do the assessment who has "proof of competence"
  2. The assessment covers a lot of different subjects, so your competent person should have experience in all aspects of fire safety.
  3. Allow enough time to have the assessment done, the report produced, any quotes for works organised, works ordered and completed. If a Fire Officer is coming to inspect your premises and expects a working fire alarm to current regulations, start early to ensure the works are finished in time. Remember, just showing a Fire Officer a quote isn't sufficient proof that the work is actually being done. Fire Officers are very experienced and they've seen these tricks many times
  4. Don't think of the assessment as being "bad news". It's there to help you get it right. You may think that you will end up with a long list of works that you will have to have done (at great expense), but many points that are raised you will find cost little or nothing to put right (signage, door wedges, procedures, records, etc.).
  5. It's always better to make a start early on this, implementing changes step-by-step, rather than leave everything to the last minute and having to cover the cost of any works all in one go.
  6. Choose the right people to do the right jobs. If your assessment says you need your electrical installation inspected, use a member of NICEIC. If it says you need your boiler serviced, use a member of GasSafe. If it says you need works done to your fire alarm, use a Fire Alarm Specialist with proof of competence. If you don't, you will just be wasting your money.
  7. Remember the Fire Risk Assessment is a "living document", not just a one-off. You will have to have it redone if you have a change of use or layout in the building, and certainly no longer than specified in your assessment.

Where can I learn more?

The government produced a range of guides covering different types of buildings (schools, factories, restaurants, etc.), available free to download at

www.communities.gov.uk/fire/firesafety/firesafetylaw