What you should know about the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005
If you hold a position of responsibility in almost any premises in England or Wales, Legislation will have important implications for you. The
original document, is nearly 80 pages long, but Safelincs customers will be pleased
to know that we have outlined the most important points for you
on this page. Our summary is not supposed to be a replacement for reading the original
document, but we understand that lengthy legal documents can be confusing, so we hope that our guide provides you with a handy overview.
Download our Free Fire Risk Assessment Form
If you would like to complete a self risk assessment why not use our Free Downloadable Risk Assessment Form. This assessment form must be used in conjunction with the official fire risk assessment guide(s)! For a free download of the guides go to www.communities.gov.uk/fire/firesafety/firesafetylaw/aboutguides.
Who is responsible?
On all commercial premises there will be a "responsible
person", who must carry
out the provisions of the Order. In almost all cases, this
is the employer and/or owner of the workplace or premises.
Anybody who has any degree of control over the premises or a part of the premises
can be designated a "responsible person".
If this person is you, then you need to consider what you can do to protect yourself
and the others using the premises from the risk of fire.
Who is affected?
Practically all premises in England and Wales, other than those that operate solely
as a single private dwelling (e.g. houses) are required to comply with this legislation.
This will include your workplace.
Most previous major Acts legislating on fire safety have been repealed and replaced
with this single document. One of the important changes is that you now have to consider
everyone who might be on the premises, including employees, visitors and
members of the public. You should give particular consideration to ensuring that
people with disabilities are protected to the same extent as people without.
What do I have to do?
The responsible person must observe a number of duties laid out in the legislation.
Take general fire precautions
- Take measures to reduce the risk of fire
- Take measures to reduce the likelihood of fire spreading
- Ensure a safe and effective means of escape from fire
- Provide means to fight fire.
- Provide means to detect fire and to alert all people in the building to its presence
Do a risk assessment
- Make a sufficient assessment of the risks posed to all people on the premises
- This should identify sources of ignition (e.g. heaters, naked flames etc.),
sources of fuel (e.g. display material, paper and fabric, stocked products, waste
etc.), sources of oxygen (e.g. compressed gases, natural ventilation, forced air
- It should identify the people at risk (e.g. those working near to fire hazards,
those working alone or in isolated areas, children, parents, elderly, infirm and
disabled people etc.)
- Review the risk assessment regularly, and especially , when there is reason
to believe the risks present may have changed (e.g. if the premises have been rearranged
or extended, or the organisation of work has changed)
- Record the information gained from the risk assessment, if five or more people
are employed on the premises
Introduce fire safety arrangements and equip the premises
- Make arrangements to plan, monitor and review the measures taken to reduce the
risks that were highlighted in the risk assessment
- Give effect to those arrangements
- Ensure that the arrangements are appropriate, given the size of the premises and
the activities that take place there.
- The minimum requirement will include a fire detection and warning
system that is able to warn everyone at risk in all circumstances,
a way of fighting a small fire, and a suitable
way to evactuate everybody, safely and quickly, from the premises. Note that larger
premises, or premises where activities are carried out that increase the dangers
posed by fire will need considerably more than this bare minimum.
- Record the fire safety arrangements, if five or more people are employed on the
- Equip the premises with fire fighting equipment, alarms and fire detectors to a
level that is appropriate, given the size of the premises and the activities that
take place there
- Ensure that any non-automatic fire fighting equipment (e.g. fire extinguishers,
fire blankets etc.) is easily accessible, simple to use and indicated by signs
- Establish safety drills and procedures that should be followed in an emergency
and nominate people to implement the procedures
- Arrange contact with the local emergency services as regards to fire fighting, rescue
work, first aid and emergency medical care
- Provide sufficient escape routes and make sure they are clear and easy to open
at all times. Note that emergency exits must open in the direction of escape, be
adequately lit, even when normal lighting fails, and that doors, planned for use
specifically in emergencies, must not be of the sliding or revolving type.
Set up a maintenance system
- Make arrangements to monitor and maintain the facilities, equipment and devices
that are used to comply with the fire safety legislation
- This should ensure all arrangements made to deal with the risk of fire are up to
date and that all equipment used to detect, warn or fight against fire, or protect
against fire is kept in good repair and efficient working order
- The owner and/or occupier of the premises, if not the responsible person himself,
must cooperate with the responsible person to allow maintenance to take
Nominate competent persons to help
- The responsible person must nominate competent persons to help him in the execution
of these duties, and somebody who is under his employment is to be preferred over
somebody who is not.
- Keep the competent persons nominated to help fully informed about all the measures
put into place associated with fire safety and fire risk
- The time and means available for those compentent persons must be sufficient for
them to fulfil their normal functions within the business as well as their duties
with respect to fire safety.
Inform all people on the premises
- Inform all employees of the risks identified in the risk assessment
- Inform all employees of of the preventative and protective measures taken to mitigate
against those risks
- Inform all employees of the identities of those "competent persons" nominated to
- Give the above information to the employer(s) of all other people working on the
premises (e.g. contractors)
- Give adequate safety training to all employees when they are first hired and whenever
they are likely to be exposed to new risks or different procedures. (e.g. extension
to premises, moving or rearranging premises, changes in the nature of their job,
new technology etc.)
Eliminate or reduce risks posed by dangerous substances
- If possible, replace the use of a dangerous substance with the use of something
- Otherwise, control the risk and mitigate the detrimental effects that fire might
have on the dangerous substance
- Provide anyone in the presence of, or responsible for, dangerous substances with
information on how to identify hazards associated with those substances, and on
the emergency arrangements pertaining to those substances
- Provide an adequate communication and warning system to enable the appropriate
response to reduce the risk posed by the substance in an emergency
What do my employees have to do?
Most of the duties outlined in the fire safety legislation pertain to the responsible
person (usually the employer) but there are some general duties that are expected
of every employee whilst they are at work.
- Inform the responsible person or any of the nominated competent persons of any
situation which represented a danger to anyone on the premises, given their level
of training and instruction
- Inform the responsible person or any of the nominated competent persons of any
shortcoming in the current systems and equipment for fire safety.
What happens if I don't comply?
If an accident occurs on the premises, it is possible, even likely, that you will
be held legally responsible and could face criminal or civil action for negligence.
The Order gives Fire Inspectors and Fire Officers the authority to inspect your
premises. If they feel an infringement of the new legislation has occurred they
- Close down the premises until action has been taken to rectify the problem, if
they believe the infringement of the legislation is serious and dangerous
- Or serve you an enforcement notice, which will give you a limited period of time
(which could be as little as 28 days) to rectify any problems before further action
Safelincs can help!
Safelincs can offer most products and services that businesses will need to comply with this legislation. Our knowledgeable advisors will be happy to suggest ways in which our
customers can minimise the risks posed by fire. If you have any queries about what you can do to make your place of work (or your
home) more secure against fire, please
do not hesitate to contact us.