David Smith, Export Manager and FIRESA Council Secretary at the Fire Industry Association explains the Fire Safety Order and asks if you know who is legally responsible for fire protection in your premises?
The Regulatory Reform [Fire Safety] Order, usually referred to as simply the Fire Safety Order [FSO], was enacted in England and Wales in October 2006 with comparative legislation existing in Scotland and Northern Ireland. It pertains to virtually all non-domestic premises, replacing most fire safety legislation with a single Order and accompanying guidance. The key element is the annulment of fire certificates issued by Fire Authorities in favour of the identification of one or more ‘Responsible Persons’, having a legal requirement in respect of fire safety for those premises.
The Responsible Person is liable for the safety of his/her employees and relevant persons through the fire safety management of risk assessments, safety policy, procedures and drills, means of escape (including emergency lighting) and a range of preventative and mitigating measures including fire alarms and extinguishers, fire doors and compartments, and signs and notices. As part of this, they must keep records on risk assessments, policy, procedures, training and drills as well as fire safety systems maintenance. This is responsibility writ large, and failure to meet these legislative demands can result in a two year prison sentence and a £5,000 fine, not to mention the matter of record that an assigned legal duty has not been met and has put lives at risk.