The Regulatory Reform Order (Fire Safety) 2005 (FSO) came into force on 1 October 2006, and replaced over 70 separate pieces of fire safety legislation. It gives responsibility to those who are best placed to address fire safety and ensure that risks – which necessarily change over time – are kept under review.
Under the FSO a ‘responsible person’ (usually the owner, employer or occupier of business or industrial premises) must carry out a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment. Responsible persons under the Order are required, following a risk assessment, to implement appropriate fire safety measures to minimise the risk to life from fire; and to keep the assessment up to date.
The FSO applies to all non-domestic premises in England and Wales, including the common parts of blocks of flats and houses in multiple occupation (HMOs). The law applies to you if you are:
- responsible for business premises
- an employer or self-employed with business premises
- responsible for a part of a dwelling where that part is solely used for business purposes
- a charity or voluntary organisation
- a contractor with a degree of control over any premises
- providing accommodation for paying guests
The Order replaces previous fire safety legislation. Any fire certificate issued under the Fire Precautions Act 1971 will cease to have any effect. If a fire certificate has been issued in respect of your premises or the premises were built to recent building regulations, as long as you have made no material alterations and all the physical fire precautions have been properly maintained, then it is unlikely you will need to make any significant improvements to your existing physical fire protection arrangements to comply with the Order. However, you must still carry out a fire risk assessment and keep it up to date to ensure that all the fire precautions in your premises remain current and adequate.
If you have previously carried out a fire risk assessment under the Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations 1997, as amended 1999, and this assessment has been regularly reviewed then all you will need to do now is revise that assessment taking account of the wider scope of the Order.
Your premises may also be subject to the provisions of a licence or registration (e.g. under the Licensing Act 2003) of the case, and the fire authority may wish to review your risk assessment as part of the licensing approval process. Fire safety conditions within your licence should not be set by a licensing authority where the Order applies.