fire safety legislation

UK fire safety legislation changed in October 2006. The Fire Precautions Act 1971 and the Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations 1997 were scrapped, along with many other fire safety regulations embedded in other statutes such as Residential Care Homes and Licensed premises etc. Fire certificates have been scrapped, and employers are now solely responsible for fire safety within their workplaces.

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order2005 was due to become law in April 2006, but was delayed until October 1st 2006. The Fire Safety Order applies to England and Wales only, Scotland has its own legislation, the Fire Safety (Scotland) Regulations 2006, which are similar in that they are risk assessment based, but there are some slight differences such as referring to 'person or persons who have control to any extent of the relevant premises' rather than a 'responsible person'.

The new regulations are largely based on the Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations, and the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmosphere Regulations (DSEAR). The regulations apply to all 'non-domestic' premises, and will also apply to the self employed, with only a few minor exceptions.

Several guidance documents are now available to purchase (or download free) from the government website which can be found by typing 'fire safety guidance' into your search engine.

The fire risk assessment element of the Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations will remain, and additional duties will be imposed, such as:

  • The duty to prevent fire spread;

  • A duty to maintain Building Regulation standards for the use and protection of the fire service;

  • A duty to appoint one or more employees to assist in ensuring compliance with the regulations (such as a fire marshal);

Like the Health & Safety at Work Act, it will be up to the responsible person to demonstrate that they did everything 'reasonably practicable' to prevent injury, and there is a civil liability if a breach of duty causes harm.

The fire service role is that of enforcement similar to the HSE for general health & safety matters.

Insurance companies will no doubt include clauses to ensure their clients are complying with the law, with obvious connotations where there is a lack of compliance ie they may refuse to pay some or all of an insurance claim. Many insurers are already insisting on the installation of sprinklers, which would be the obvious way to prevent fire spread. see sprinklers

If you would like help with any fire safety matter, contact for assistance.

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