When you own a building that is separated into many different compartments, such as an office block, for instance, you have a responsibility for fire safety for the occupants who pay you rent. This means that you need to undertake a landlord fire risk assessment of your premises, and of the common areas.
Certainly, those occupants have responsibilities as well, because they can arrange the furniture in their offices the way that it suits them to run their businesses, and they may each have different requirements and need different things in order to do so.
Nonetheless, as you are in overall control of the building you have a legal responsibility under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. This requires you to take steps to reduce the risk of fire and make certain that everyone in the building can safely evacuate in the case of a fire, as far as is “reasonably practical”.
One of the things that can help to put out a fire and reduce the risk of it spreading is a sprinkler system, so it may well be the best idea to have one installed, if not in every office, then certainly in corridors and staircases.
Of course, you also need to have fire doors, and they need to be positioned in such a way that they prevent fire spreading and at the same time protect escape routes.
There should also be plenty of signage, and all fire safety signs should contain pictures so that they can be understood at a glance. They should also be well lit so that in an emergency they can still be seen even if the power goes down. On that note, you also need emergency lighting that will come into play if this happens. Emergency lighting should be along all corridors, at doors, on staircases, and on any change of direction or floor level. In addition, you need emergency lighting next to all firefighting equipment.
As for firefighting equipment, this should contain both water and CO2 fire extinguishers so that all eventualities are covered. The number and position of fire extinguishers should be covered in your landlord fire risk assessment. In addition, you should also have fire blankets which are made of fire retardant material and are useful for putting out small fires.
Of course, as a landlord you may well have a problem in undertaking a fire safety assessment for a large building and knowing exactly what you need and where it should be. This is why many building owners ask us at UK-FireRisk Assessments to undertake this for them. Our experts can advise you what you need and where, so that you can have peace of mind that you are compliant with all requirements.