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What is the Law on Fire Safety?

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In England and Wales – The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, came into effect and replaced over 70 pieces of fire safety law. In Scotland – The Fire (Scotland) Act 2005 and the associated Fire Safety (Scotland) Regulations 2006. In Northern Ireland – The Fire and Rescue Services (Northern Ireland) Order 2006 and The Fire Safety Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2010.

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order will apply to virtually all premises and covers nearly every type of building, structure, and open space. For example: • offices and shops • premises that provide care • community halls • common areas of houses in multiple occupation • pubs, clubs and restaurants • schools • tents and marquees • hotels and hostels • factories and warehouses It excludes domestic premises occupied by a single-family group. Responsibility for complying with the Order rests with the ‘responsible person’. In a workplace, this is the employer and any other person who may have control of any part of the premises, e.g. 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 (e.g. a multi-occupied complex), all must take all reasonable steps to co-operate and co-ordinate with each other.

Employers and self-employed people must carry out, or appoint a competent person to carry out a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment of the risks of fire to their employees and others who may be affected by their work or business. Those who employ five or more employees must keep a formal record of any significant findings and remedial measures which have, or may need to be, taken. The competent person or fire risk assessor need not possess any specific academic qualifications but should: • understand the relevant fire safety legislation; • have appropriate education, training, knowledge and experience in the principles of fire safety; • have an understanding of fire development and the behaviour of people in fire; • understand the fire hazards, fire risks and relevant factors associated with occupants at special risk within the buildings of the type in question, and • have appropriate training and/or experience in carrying out fire risk assessment

If you are not confident to be able to undertake your own Fire Risk Assessment, get help from a competent source. Remember you must be confident and competent to undertake this type of risk assessment. If in doubt always ask for advice.

The Fire Service are the Enforcing Authority of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and will not undertake your fire risk assessment.

No. You will need to prepare a fire risk assessment and emergency plan yourself or seek advice from an external competent source.

It is the responsibility of employers to ensure that their staff are adequately trained on what to do in the event of fire. Training should be given upon induction of employment. Refresher training should be given at least once a year. Training should be undertaken by a competent person and a record kept in some form of logbook Fire Safety Training can be carried out in house, or by a reputable company.

A Fire Marshal/ Fire Warden is a person who holds specific responsibilities within a business that help in the management of fire safety and the evacuation a of building’s occupants in the event of an emergency. A Fire Warden’s duties and responsibilities vary from business to business, depending on the risks outlined in their Fire Risk Assessment. The responsibilities of a Fire Marshal’s/ Fire Warden can generally be split into two categories: day to day management of Fire Safety and the management of an emergency situation.

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Does fire safety law apply in the current Covid-19 situation?

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Yes, the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (The Order) still applies. It is the duty of the responsible person defined in Article 3 of the order (see question below) to ensure risk from fire is identified and suitable measures implemented. These should be recorded in your fire risk assessment (FRA). The Order applies for the protection of life safety and not the protection of property, although there will be property protection benefits. Fire safety measures that are in place to protect people in, or in the immediate vicinity of a premises will need to be maintained in good working order (for advice on maintenance see section below). Where the order is not the legislation relating to fire safety the relevant legislation is still in force as there is currently no relaxation in fire safety law.

It is the responsible person's responsibility to ensure there are sufficiently trained staff to assist them in managing fire safety. The responsible person is defined as: • The employer • Where there is no employer the person who has control of the premises • The owner You should contact your Manager and/or Supervisor, observing Government guidelines, to seek advice and there should be a premises fire risk assessment which will assist. Where doubt exists, you should seek advice from a competent fire risk assessor.

There needs to be a suitable and sufficient number of fire exits for the number of occupants within your premises that are immediately available without the use of a key or code. This should ensure occupants do not have to travel excessive distances or pass through an area of high fire risk or move towards a fire to escape. This should be supported with adequate escape signage and emergency lighting to identify the escape routes to be used in event of fire, with any changes being relayed to all occupants in a format they can understand. You should assess this for the current occupancy and use and record in your fire risk assessment - where doubt exists, you should seek advice from a competent person.

If a one-way system or other process is introduced to control the flow of occupants, its impact on the means of escape must be assessed to ensure all occupants have a suitable means of escape in event of fire, specifically that they do not have to travel excessive distances. You should assess this for the proposed occupancy and record in your fire risk assessment - where doubt exists, you should seek advice from a competent person.

You need to assess and evaluate the impact this has on your ability to escape your premises in event of fire and the availability of other escape routes. Where safe to do so, and in accordance with government guidelines, you should liaise with the responsible person of the other premises to see if an agreement can be reached. This should be recorded in your fire risk assessment and, where doubt exists, you should seek advice from a competent person.

You need to assess and evaluate the impact this has on all your fire safety measures. It is highly recommended you do this in conjunction with other premises owners and the premises management company, to assess the risk and record the findings in your fire risk assessment. Where doubt exists, you should seek advice from a competent person.

Fire drills are an important part of any successful emergency evacuation procedure and can assist in a safe evacuation in event of fire, it is imperative everyone understands what to do in event of fire. You need to assess the current situation considering the familiarity of your occupants and the last fire drill. If required and depending on your premises, you can familiarise new occupants with the premises and may be able to carry this out via a desktop drill, this is important when staff have been working at a different site previously or are newly employed. It is also extremely important to take into consideration the need for Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans (PEEPs) and how these will be managed and supported as part of your overall emergency evacuation procedures and fire risk assessment.

It is essential all occupants leave a premises in event of fire to ensure their safety and go to the pre-determined assembly point. Whilst social distancing may be impacted during evacuation, this can be managed and by following government guidelines on maintaining hygiene at the assembly point.

You need to review and revise your current emergency plan and fire marshal provision, including the assembly point, considering the number of occupants and ensure all occupants are issued with revised instructions and are aware of what is expected.

You need to immediately identify your current staffing levels and consider how this will impact the use of your premises, the safety of those staff still at work and your emergency evacuation procedures. Consideration should be given to PEEPs and the evacuation of the most vulnerable occupants of your premises. You should consider, where it is practical to do so, relocating occupants within the premises and minimising the areas in use, and investigating all avenues to provide the required number of staff to enable a safe evacuation from your premises. Where doubt exists seek further advice from a competent person.

Yes, it is important all staff and those who may be working at the premises such as maintenance staff, are given fire safety training relevant to their role, responsibilities and needs in event of fire. You should review the current level of training against each individual and update where required – this is essential for any occupants who may not be familiar with your premises.

All staff and those working on the premises need to be familiarised with the premises and informed of the arrangements and any specific risks to which they may be exposed and what is expected of them in event of fire.

It is important any person expected to use a fire extinguisher to reduce fire risk or to secure a safe escape is trained, they should: • Be familiar with the operating instructions • Understand which extinguisher can be used on which type of fire • Be aware of the fire extinguisher locations • Ensure fire extinguishers are kept clean to prevent cross-contamination, serviced and maintained on a regular basis • Processes which require fire extinguishers to form part of their procedures such as Hot Works should not be carried out (unless they are completed by fully competent people with all aspects of the processes including responding to a fire)

It is imperative people living and working in the built environment are safe, and are kept safe, regardless of the current COVID-19 lockdown and phased return conditions. There is no relaxation of fire safety legislation and it is the responsibility of the responsible person and/or duty holder to ensure they are testing and maintaining all fire safety measures to maintain a safe premises. The Government's view is that workers in the fire safety industry provide vital support to critical functions and in certain circumstances should be considered key workers within the provisions of HM Government guidelines. They must also keep themselves safe whilst carrying out these essential activities by following the latest Government advice. If your premises are empty, fire safety systems for the protection of life may not be required to be maintained as the primary concern is with life safety. If there is no-one on or in the immediate vicinity of the premises who may be reliant on your fire safety measures (e.g. in accommodation above a premises), then The Order allows a risk-based approach to testing and maintenance where it remains vacant. If doubt exists advice must be sought from a competent person. However, you must ensure any fire safety system for the protection of life is fully checked by a competent person as soon as possible when the premises are going to come back into use, ensuring they are all tested before occupation, especially for any sleeping risk premises. If any doubt exists as to the purpose of any fire safety system that may not be maintained, prior to ceasing testing and maintenance advice must be sought from a competent person

Alongside normal day to day fire prevention measures consider: • Prohibiting any hot works unless necessary. If they do need to take place, ensure they are carried out by a competent person with a suitable and sufficient risk assessment in place with appropriate checks following completion of the work • For all premises that may be unoccupied or partially occupied, ensure that all electrical appliances are switched off and the plugs are removed from sockets where possible • Keep any stock or waste that may build up away from the building and keep access to these secure to reduce the risk from arson

Please consider the disruption to waste and refuse collections and minimise as far as is practicable, the build-up of waste and refuse, ensuring any excess storage does not block escape routes and is stored away from premises. This should form part of your fire risk assessment review with consideration to arson risk.

For employees who will be working from home, please encourage them to: • Take the time to check home fire safety arrangements, and ensure that smoke alarms are fitted, tested and are working correctly • Use electrical items safely for example do not 'daisy chain' extension leads • Make sure all members of the family know what to do if there is a fire particularly, elderly people and children • Carry out bedtime checks – close doors, unplug electrical appliances and chargers, check heaters are off, and that any candles and cigarettes are properly extinguished. • Remind everyone if there is a fire to: Get out, stay out and call the fire service by dialling 999

the contractor to leave the premises in a safe condition. The premises fire risk assessment must be reviewed and revised to take account of the circumstances. This might include changes to automatic fire detection and alarm systems, means of escape and emergency procedures. If any doubt exists then seek advice from a competent person.


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