Fire Legislation in England and Wales
Fire safety in England and Wales has now been brought under one regime known as The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 which came into force on 1st October 2006. So, if you own, manage or operate a business you must comply with fire safety law.
The Order applies to virtually all buildings, places and structures other than individual private dwellings e.g. individual flats in a block or family homes, and it is your responsibility to make sure your workplace reaches the required standard and employees are provided with adequate fire safety training.
The 'Fire Safety Order' places the emphasis on risk reduction and fire prevention. Under the Order, people responsible for commercial buildings i.e. the employer, owner, or any other person who has control of any part of the premises, are required to carry out a mandatory detailed fire risk assessment identifying the risks and hazards in the premises.
The risk assessment must cover both employees and any other relevant person, which may include employees of other employers, visitors, contractors etc. An inspecting officer will expect to see your risk assessment and emergency plan when an inspection is carried out. The risk assessment must be recorded if you have a total of five or more employees.
The responsible person for the premises is also required to:
Consider anyone who may be at risk.
Eliminate or reduce the risk from fire as far as is reasonably practical and provide general fire precautions to deal with any risk.
Take additional measures to ensure fire safety where flammable or explosive materials are used or stored.
Create a plan to deal with any emergency and where necessary record any findings.
Maintain general fire precautions and facilities provided for use by fire-fighters.
Keep any findings of the risk assessment under review.
The Responsible Person
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 places the emphasis for compliance with the 'Responsible Person', which in most workplaces is the employer and any other person who may have control of any part of the premises, for example; the occupier or owner. In all other premises the person or people in control of the premises will be responsible. If there is more than one responsible person in any type of premises, all must take all reasonable steps to work with each other.
The legislation allows for any competent person to carry out an assessment. This can be done through a suitable training course. You will need to be able to demonstrate that an appropriately qualified individual completed the assessment. When using an 'outside' organisation to conduct a risk assessment that you will be responsible for, you should satisfy yourself that they are suitably competent and qualified to conduct the risk assessment.
Fire Safety Training
It is the responsibility of employers to ensure that staff are adequately trained on what to do in the event of fire. Training should be given upon induction with refresher training given at least once a year. Training should be undertaken by a competent person and a record kept of the training. It can be carried out in house or by a reputable company. Fire instruction should be given to staff in respect of the following;
Actions on discovering a fire
Everyone should understand the correct procedure to be followed if they discover a fire. This should include how to operate the manual fire alarm call points in their location.
Calling the Fire Service
Personnel should be instructed in the correct method of calling the fire service.
Action to be taken on hearing the fire alarm
Everyone should be made aware of the evacuation procedures in their workplace. They should be shown escape routes and final exits, they should also be made aware of the importance of fire doors and their purpose in protecting escape routes.
Evacuating the workplace
Personnel should be shown their 'Fire Assembly Point' and made aware of the need to ensure they have been accounted for.
Use of Portable Fire Fighting Equipment
Staff should be trained in the use of the portable fire extinguishers that they may come across in the workplace. It is not acceptable to say 'employees are not expected to use an extinguisher and therefore they don't need to know'.
|The government have produced a series of guides, for different environments, which can be downloaded free of charge click on the links below to select the most relevant guide for your premises.|