“The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order” (FSO)
As part of it's commitment to reduce death, injury and damage caused by fire, The Government has reviewed the fire safety law and has introduced “The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order” (FSO).
The proposed changes apply to non-domestic premises and take effect from 1st October 2006, throughout England and Wales. The FSO will replace most existing general fire safety legislation. For example, fire certificates will be abolished and will cease to have any legal status. The new fire legislation will cover fire precautions and other fire safety duties which are needed to protect people in case of a fire in non-domestic premises.
The RRO continues the trend set by the Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations 1997 (as amended in 1999) by placing a requirement on the responsible person for the premises (normally the employer) to ensure that there is a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment of the premises on site. A competent person should complete the fire risk assessment and take into account not only the risks of the building and processes within it, but the effect a fire might have on surrounding premises and persons. This includes the safety of the fire fighters should they need to enter the building. As from 1st October 2006, the UK Fire & Rescue Service will enforce more vigorously the new regulations and the Government has suggested that – “failure to have a valid fire risk assessment on site could lead to fines or imprisonment”.
Will “The Fire Safety Order” affect me? Yes if you are:
- Responsible for business premises.
- An employer.
- Self employed with business premises.
- A charity or voluntary organisation.
- A contractor or agent with a degree of control over any premises.
Fire Risk Assessments
All non – domestic premises with 5 or more employees and all shared or common parts of a property with more than one occupier are legally required to produce a written fire risk assessment. Completing a fire risk assessment is not only a legal requirement under the RRO; it can also deliver realistic benefits to employers and their Company. Through the risk assessment, the likelihood of a fire and loss of life or injury can be significantly reduced. By taking a few simple steps, employers can not only prevent fires breaking out but also ensure their business continuity and safety of their premises and employees. This is an interesting viewpoint when you consider that:-
- 70% of businesses close within 2 years of the fire.
- 80% of businesses that suffer a moderate fire do not stay in business, lose their market share or lose their skilled staff to competitors.