The Fire Safety Order places the responsibility for fire safety management with a designated responsible person. The responsible person needs to make sure their properties are adequately protected from the risks of fire – not the fire authorities. This person may be the owner, the occupier, an employer or the managing agent acting on behalf of the owner.

The responsible person needs to take certain fire precautions to ensure the safety of all relevant persons. Relevant persons can be tenants, employees and any other people who may be affected by a fire in the building (e.g. general public, visitors or contractors). The responsible person’s main duty is to ensure a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment is carried out, assessing the risk to which the relevant persons may be exposed. Other responsibilities include:

  • Ensuring a fire risk assessment is carried out by a competent person.
  • Undertaking any remedial actions identified in the significant findings of the fire risk assessment.
  • Training staff to react to emergency situations within the specific premises.
  • Recording all maintenance and testing of fire precautions.
  • Recording all training carried out.
  • Ensuring the risk assessment is regularly reviewed by a competent person.

The responsible person must appoint a competent person to carry out fire risk assessments and any subsequent fire safety requirements. The law defines competency as "someone with the necessary training, experience, knowledge and other qualities to carry out the task, yet who is aware of the limitations of their knowledge and abilities". Employers who are entrusting tasks to employees are required to take their capabilities into account, as outlined in The Fire Safety (Employees' Capabilities) (England) Regulations 2010.

A fire risk assessment is a thorough survey of the premises that considers all the fire risks that may affect the premises and the people connected with it. If there are 5 or more people employed within the building, if the premises are licensed, or an alterations notice is in force, the fire risk assessment must be a written report. This report will identify all the hazards and provide detailed significant findings.

These are simply the recommendations arising from the fire risk assessment. Significant findings outline additional control measures that are required to mitigate the risks identified. Responsible persons need to ensure that any remedial actions emerging from the significant findings are completed. Fire risk assessments should prioritise significant findings and provide recommended timescales within which to carry these out.

Once completed, the fire risk assessment is considered to be a live document that must be regularly reviewed. Additional reviews should be carried out when there are process changes in how the building is used, the structure of the building or changes to the specific needs of people who are in or around the building.

Fire Safety legislation applies to all non-domestic premises, including the common parts of blocks of flats and houses in multiple occupation (HMOs). Other types of property covered include:

  • Shops and offices
  • Hotels and other sleeping accommodation
  • Residential care premises
  • Educational premises
  • Small and medium places of assembly
  • Large places of assembly
  • Theatres and cinemas
  • Outdoor events
  • Healthcare premises
  • Transport premises and facilities
  • Factories and warehouses
  • Animal premises and stables

The government has developed a fire safety guide for each premises type. Whilst they do not set prescriptive standards, they provide recommendations to aid compliance. They can be found on the Communities Local Government website, or by clicking here.