Business fire safety law and your duties

Since 2006 the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 has required the ‘responsible person’ of a business or non-domestic premises to ensure the safety of any persons on the premises from the effects of fire.

The Fire Safety Order

Before the introduction of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 the state of fire safety legislation in the UK was a mess. The Fire Safety Order came into effect in October 2006, and rather than prescribing exact measures for every premises it gives the responsibility for deciding what fire safety measures are required to the responsible person for that premises.

Responsible Person(s)

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 offers the following hierarchy in working out who is the responsible person for a premises:

  • If it’s a workplace, then the responsible person is the employer
  • If it’s not a workplace, then it is the person with control over that premises or the owner

So in an office the responsible person is the employer, in a public house the responsible person might be the landlord or the brewery and in a House In Multiple Occupation (HIMO) the responsible person is the landlord.

Where does it apply?

The short answer is almost everywhere. It isn’t always enforced by the Fire and Rescue Authority but the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 applies to most premises, apart from people’s private homes which they live in as a single family.

What you need to do

There is a short guide to what you need to do to make your premises safe from fire, this is a great place to start. If you require the short guide in a different language, a selection can be found on our guidance notes and information page

If you are the responsible person the first and most important step you need to take is to carry out a fire risk assessment. This will determine what fire safety measures you already have in place and what more you need to introduce. Don’t forget that this needs to be reviewed regularly, and especially if the way your premises is used changes. Once you’ve done that, you need to:

  • Tell any staff or other relevant people about the risks you’ve found
  • Put in place the appropriate measures you identified on your risk assessment
  • Create a plan for what happens in the event of an emergency
  • Make sure that staff are adequately trained with appropriate fire safety information and skills

For more information on how to conduct a risk assessment and your ongoing responsibilities, please visit our fire risk assessments page.

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