Fire Safety Legal Obligations
Safety Cornwall Ltd assists those who are designated as Responsible Persons in fire safety law to achieve and maintain their legal obligations in regard to fire safety.
The Responsible Person is defined as the employer or otherwise, the person in control of the premises.
Fire safety duties are set out within the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. Responsible Persons have legal obligations in criminal law to ensure compliance or be laible to enforcement action.
Penalties for non-compliance can include significant fines. Where there has been a fatality due to gross neglect of a duty of care under fire safety law, those found responsible may be charged with manslaughter.
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 imposes a duty upon employers and business operators to self-manage fire safety. In particular, this includes the duty to ensure that a fire risk assessment is undertaken by a competent person.
The fire risk assessment must be 'suitable and sufficient', which means that it must comply with the relevant fire safety guide as a minimum standard.
There are eleven fire safety guides published by the government. Each one relates to a specific type of premises, eg: sleeping accommodation; places of public assembly; factories and warehouses; etc. The guides are comprehensive and quite technical in content, and all are over 120 pages long, so those undertaking the fire safety risk assessment need to have a good understanding of these guides as well as a good knowledge of the principles and practices of fire safety.
The Responsible Person must ensure that adequate fire precautions are provided within buildings and also ensure that there are adequate arrangements for the management of fire safety, which may require the appointment and training of key personnel as fire wardens.
The arrangements for fire safety must be sufficient to ensure that any occupants of the building may be brought to safety in a fire emergency. This must take into account risk factors such as sleeping accommodation, persons with disabilities, the storage and use of flammable substances on the premises, etc.
NB the Responsible Person cannot rely on the attendance of the fire brigade as part of the arrangements for fire safety.
General fire precautions must include measures that will:
Reduce the risk of fire spreading through the building, either vertically or horizontally
Provide safe and effective means of escape in a fire emergency
Ensure effective means of fighting fires on the premises
Ensure the effective detection of fire
Ensure adequate warning in case of fire
Provide arrangements for emergency action in the event of fire (the emergency action plan)
Provide appropriate instruction and training for nominated key personnel (eg, fire wardens)
Provide general fire safety awareness training for employees
Monitor and maintain fire precautions
Keep records in regard to monitoring and fire safety training