Fire is an ever-present risk in any building – even an empty one! It is because of this that we have the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, and you have to comply with it if you are what is known as the “responsible person” in your business, if you are a landlord of an HMO, or if you run certain businesses such as a bed and breakfast or you let a self-catering property.
You are responsible for fire safety in business or other non-domestic properties if you are an employer, the owner, the landlord, an occupier, or perhaps a building manager, managing agent, or anyone else in charge of the premises. It is also possible for there to be more than one responsible person: for example, there could be ten businesses in an office block in which case there would be ten responsible persons who would all need to work together.
As a responsible person you have to:
- carry out a fire risk assessment of the premises and review it regularly
- tell staff or their representatives about the risks you’ve identified
- put in place, and maintain appropriate fire safety measures
- plan for an emergency
- provide staff information, fire safety instruction, and training
In addition, if you are an employer with five or more employees, you are also required to keep a written record of your fire safety risk assessment. Furthermore, the government points out that you could be fined or go to prison if you do not follow fire safety regulations.
Many Employers Do Not Have The Necessary Skills
Of course, the issue for many employers is that they do not have the required skills to carry out a fire risk assessment. While some things may be obvious, there are many things that could cause a fire risk that would only be noticed by the trained eye.
As the responsible person you need to identify any fire hazards and people who may be at risk. You have to evaluate and remove or reduce the risks. There may be situations where it is not possible to remove the risk. For example, if you have a manufacturing business it may be that you have flammable materials that are used in certain processes. Obviously, you cannot remove them. However, you may well be able to reduce the risk, for example, in this instance by storing them separately in another building away from the main one.
You also have to record your findings and prepare an emergency plan in the event that a fire does break out, and also provide training to your employees. In addition, you are required to review your assessment regularly. There is no definition of “regularly” but most people accept it as once a year. However, if you make alterations in your business premises you may well need to review it each time you do so.
The good news is that there is a “get out” clause. As the responsible person you can appoint a “competent person” as a fire risk assessor to undertake all this for you. This is what we do at UK-Fire Risk Assessments. Our fire risk assessor can undertake your fire risk assessment for you and provide you with the written report that you need.