A guide to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (FSO)
This Order is the primary legislation regarding fire safety. The Fire Precautions Act 1971 and the Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations 1996 were revoked when the Order came into force on 1 October 2006.
The responsibility for ensuring the Order is complied with rests with:
- The responsible person (the employer), providing the workplace is to any extent under his/her control
- The person who has control of the premises (occupier or otherwise), whether the undertaking is for profit or not
- Or the owner
In the majority of premises it will be fairly obvious who the responsible person is. There will be premises where the responsibility for fire safety rests with a number of people. In buildings that are occupied by a number of different businesses the responsible persons must co-operate, as should the owner or managing agent for the building.
The Order exemptions are:
- Domestic premises
- Offshore installations
- A ship (normal ship-board activities)
- Fields, woods, agricultural land and forestry
- Aircraft, locomotive, rolling stock, trailer or semi-trailer
- Borehole Sites
The responsible person must consider the fire safety provisions and the safety of all, especially those with special needs, young persons and those not familiar with the building. In order to do this he or she must:
- Carry out a fire safety risk assessment that considers not only his/her premises but also any relevant persons who could be affected by a fire
- Appoint one or more competent persons to assist with fire safety
- Take steps to reduce the risk of a fire occurring; should a fire occur reduce the chance of it spreading
- Provide general fire precautions and policy and create an emergency plan
- Implement special measures and precautions that are necessary regarding dangerous and/or flammable substances
- Establish a suitable means of contacting the emergency services and informing them of relevant information
- Consult with employees and or their representatives regarding fire safety
- Ensure that employees receive adequate training regarding fire safety
- Inform all non-employees as well as their employers (e.g. contract and temporary workers) of the fire safety measures implemented and of any risks those workers may be exposed to
- Take special measures regarding the employment of young persons and inform their parents or guardians about the risks and measures that have been taken
- Ensure that fire safety measures are maintained (e.g. fire alarm, emergency lighting, fire-fighting equipment).
- Record the significant findings of the assessment and prepare an action plan (prioritised) for dealing with those findings and, if necessary, deal with those
- Monitor the effectiveness of the fire safety arrangements
- Review the assessment periodically, after structural and managerial changes, after changes in work practice or the introduction of new processes or machinery
As of 1st October 2023 the Building safety Act 2022 amends the Fire Safety Order with regards to the responsibilities of the Responsible Person around fire risk assessments and sharing of fire safety information - for more details see here.
Similar to Health and Safety legislation, this Order is about self-compliance. The enforcement of the Order will generally be by the local Fire and Rescue Authority, however in certain premises the Order will be enforced by:-
- The Health and Safety Executive
- The fire service maintained by the Secretary of Defence
- The relevant Local Authority
- A fire inspector authorised by the Secretary of State
Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service will enforce the Order in the following circumstances:
- Routine inspections of which due notice will be given
- Following a complaint
- Following a fire, (post-fire inspection)
Dependant on the risk, enforcement action may take the form of:-=
- Verbal advice
- Advice in writing
- A schedule of works
- An agreed action plan
- The serving of an Enforcement Notice
- The serving of an Alterations Notice
- The serving of a Prohibition Notice
- Simple caution
The person on whom a notice is served may appeal to a Magistrates Court within 21 days of the issue of the notice.
Should the responsible person and the Fire and Rescue Authority disagree on the measures required to remedy an area of non-compliance, (providing both parties agree), then the matter may be referred to the Secretary of State for a determination.
Further information on fire safety legislation can be found on the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) website.