If you own a business of any description, or for that matter any other type of non-domestic premises, there are legal responsibilities regarding fire safety. The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Act 2005 says that in each situation there is a “responsible person”.
The government advice on this is that you are the responsible person if you are:
- an employer
- the owner
- the landlord
- an occupier
- anyone else with control of the premises, for example, a facilities manager, building manager, managing agent, or risk assessor
It is possible that there may be more than one responsible person on the premises. For instance, you may operate from an office building in which there are other businesses as well. If this is the case, the responsible persons must work together in order to ensure fire safety. You are also governed by the Fire Safety Order if you have to pay guests, such as a bed and breakfast, or you might let a self-catering property.
One of the things that you must do, if you are the responsible person, is to conduct a fire safety assessment of the premises. Furthermore, if you have five or more employees, not only must you do that, but you must also keep a written record of your assessment and any actions taken as a result. In addition, you must review your fire safety assessment “regularly” – although the government does not define this – so for practical purposes, most people do this annually.
On top of that, you must review your fire assessment whenever any changes are made. So, you might have a factory and move your machinery about, and this could alter a fire escape route or access to fire-fighting equipment. A change could also be something as simple as taking on an extra employee because this could alter an escape route or mean that it will take longer for all employees to escape.
Now, if all of this seems fairly sensible (which it is) and straightforward (which it may very well not be), then you may possibly be able to carry out a fire risk assessment yourself. But the rules state that the fire safety assessment must be carried out by a “competent” person.
Are you competent to carry out a fire safety assessment of your premises?
Truth to tell, probably not. You may be a first-class accountant, web designer, garage owner, pub landlord, or whatever because you undertook training and have been doing the job for several years. But how much training have you had in assessing a building for fire safety? Probably not a lot.
The problem is that there are so many things to look out for. Certainly, some things may be obvious and stand out a mile, such as a row of machines in front of an exit door which means that people have to run to the end of the row and then back again behind the machines to get out. So, the machines need moving so that there is an easy route to the door. That one may be obvious.
But there are also many other things that may not be obvious to those who have not had the training and experience of carrying out fire assessments, yet which could still be a hazard or potential hazard.
Furthermore, there are many other things involved in fire safety. You need to have fire-fighting equipment and fire alarms, but do you really know what sort of alarms you need and what type of fire extinguishers, and where they should be situated. Do you know what sort of signage there should be so that visitors to your property, such as your customers if you run a retail store, can easily see what to do and which way to go in the event of a fire breaking out? Probably not.
This is why so many people take advantage of our fire safety assessment services at UK-Fire Risk Assessments. Our name is a bit of a giveaway. It’s what we do. All-day and every day. Our team has had the necessary training so we can visit your premises wherever you may be and carry out your fire risk assessment for you. We also provide you with the written report that you need.
That way, you have peace of mind because you will know that you are compliant with the law.