Don’t get burnt by fire regulations!

02 Feb 2022
BY Louis Boxley

Don’t get burnt by fire regulations!

Does your business comply with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005? Do you have a designated ‘Responsible Person’ and have you carried out a fire safety risk assessment? Do you know what the order is?

What is the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005?

Let’s start from the beginning. The order came into force on 1st October 2006 to provide a minimum fire safety standard in all non-domestic premises, so if you own a business or even manage one, you need to comply with the fire safety order. If you think that you might be exempt from compliance, there’s very little chance you actually are – the order applies to almost all buildings and places other than a person’s private home and includes, as examples, offices, warehouses, factories, pubs, care homes and hospitals (and the list does go on).

As the business owner, is it my responsibility only to meet the order?

The good news is that you can nominate a responsible person to undertake the duties of meeting the requirements of the order. If you have a manager that is accountable for the control of your site and building, they can be your responsible person, if you have someone that has some control over specific areas then they can also take responsibility. It is also possible to have a number of responsible people where required, but it’s important in this scenario that everyone holds accountability for the safety of employees and visitors and takes all necessary steps to reduce fire risk.

What do I have to do?

You (or your responsible person) are duty-bound to carry out a fire safety risk assessment to identify danger points and if there are five employees or more then it has to be a written assessment. In particular you need to consider who might be at risk in the building or its spaces and look at removing those risks as far as possible. If it’s not possible to eliminate them all, you could think about providing fire precautions for mitigation such as a fire-detection and warning system, or fire extinguishers installed around the site. Of course, the most important aspect of the assessment is people. By asking the questions: “Can everyone in the building or on-site escape safely if there is a fire?”. And: “Is there anyone on site who has a disability that would require them to be given extra help to exit?”. Then you at a good starting point for establishing risk.

It’s important that this process of assessing fire risk is cyclical. By recording findings and subsequent actions and creating an emergency plan, you have a solid basis for regular reviews where you and/or your responsible person can make changes where necessary or introduce new fire safety measure to the premises.

Training is also essential for your staff and will vary depending on their level of involvement in case of fire. For example, fire marshals will need a high-level of training as they are responsible for helping to evacuate people from the premises and guiding them to the relevant fire assembly point. They will also take on the role of alerting the emergency services and carrying out a roll-call, so it’s vital they are well versed on your plan.

Help, if you need it

If you have conducted your detailed fire safety risk assessment and have concerns that your current fire detection system isn’t as efficient as it could be, or you think a fully integrated system for your premises might be better, then we’d be happy to talk to you about what’s best for your business premises. The systems we design use smart technology and are super responsive to the presence of fire, heat or smoke – they also integrate with your other systems to provide full coverage. With one of our bespoke systems you can be sure that you’ve exceeded all the requirements of the fire safety order but, more importantly, have protected your staff, equipment, and premises.

Dave Salisbury, Managing Director, Zicam Integrated Security Limited.

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