If you are an employer or a landlord, operate a business as a manager, or are perhaps a managing agent looking after properties owned by a landlord, the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 is something that concerns you very much. As one of those people, the law regards you as the “Responsible Person” in charge of a property and that means that you are responsible for the safety of people who work, live in, or may visit the building concerned. That includes customers, if you operate a retail business, visiting salespeople trying to sell you something, contractors whom you have invited into the building in order to carry out some work, passing kids who rush in to demand money for Halloween – in fact, anybody on the premises, even if they are there illegally!
This includes, in particular, safety from fire. This is because fire can break out anywhere for any number of reasons. You may think that it doesn’t happen often, but in the year to December 2019, Fire & Rescue Services attended over 155,000 fires in England alone.
This is why, as the “responsible person”, you are required to carry out a fire risk assessment of your premises and if you employ five or more people, or are a landlord of an HMO, keep a written record of it and any and all actions that you took as a result. You are also required to review your fire risk assessment on a regular basis, and in particular when anything changes. This would include things that we have seen recently, such as retail stores setting up one-way systems because of Covid-19. They may not actually have reviewed their assessment, but nonetheless, they should have done because this could easily affect escape routes if a fire broke out.
As you can see, the onus is on you as the responsible person. You can, if you wish, delegate the responsibility to someone else, such as a senior employee, or even a third party such as ourselves at UK-Fire Risk Assessments if you prefer.
So why would you choose to do that?
Well, the straightforward answer is that undertaking a fire risk assessment is actually very complicated, even if you only have a small business.
Let’s look at a similar example. Suppose you decided that you are fed up with paying for your Audi/Rolls/Daimler/Toyota/Ford, or whatever, to be serviced and you thought you would do it yourself.
Well, the simple fact is that, yes, you could buy all the tools necessary to carry out the service, and you could buy all the necessary parts and spares. You have two eyes, two legs, two arms, which are exactly the same as the mechanic at your local Ford dealer (well, not exactly the same, but you get the point) so you could certainly do all your own servicing and save that money forevermore.
However, there is one big problem, and it’s this:
The mechanic at your local Ford dealer knows what he is doing.
But you don’t!
You don’t actually know where to begin. You don’t have a computer that you can plug in to tell you what needs to be done where. And you probably don’t know one end of a spanner from the other. So, while technically you could do your own servicing, you are far better off leaving it to someone who knows how to do it.
The same thing applies to a fire risk assessment. If you don’t believe us, take a look at this government website: https://www.gov.uk/workplace-fire-safety-your-responsibilities.
The requirements for a fire risk assessment are actually very detailed and very complex.
And here is the kicker. The following is copied directly from the first link above:
“Minor penalties can be up to £5,000. Major penalties can have unlimited fines and up to 2 years in prison.”
That is not if you deliberately set out to ignore the law, although that obviously counts. But it is also if you get it wrong.
It is not up to us to tell you what to do. But if you want a qualified fire risk assessor who will get it right, and provide you with the written report that the law requires you to keep, then it would be a good idea to call us!