Your Legal Responsibilities

WHO NEEDS A FIRE SAFETY RISK ASSESSMENT?

Every week we speak to business owners who are unaware of their legal obligations under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and have never considered a fire safety risk assessment or training their staff to ensure that they know what to do if a fire breaks out on the premises. Just by owning a business you have automatically gained some form of responsibility for the fire safety in your premises, whether the building is owned by you or not.

 

The Responsible Person

 

The ‘Responsible Person’ is the individual who owns the premises or business or the person with control over the premises, business or activity.

Whilst you may feel that, as the nominated ‘Responsible Person’, you can undertake such an assessment, this burdens you with a lot of responsibility, especially if things go wrong. Without doubt, it pays to invest in a qualified third party assessor to provide full insights and recommendations on how to strengthen your fire safety precautions and ensure you are trading within the fire regulations of this country.

 

Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005

 

Fire Safety Risk Assessments and Training are not only crucial to your business, they are also a legal requirement under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 replaced over 70 different previous fire safety legislation in the UK. Any fire certificate issued under the Fire Precautions Act 1971 has now ceased to have any effect.

The Fire Safety Order is a self-regulating item of legislation which has wide reaching powers to ensure suitable and sufficient provisions are made by the Responsible Person regarding fire safety measures. If not fully implemented this can leave the Responsible Person exposed to legal action.

A Fire Safety Risk Assessment, which is both suitable and sufficient, will identify any deficiencies and will allow the Responsible Person to undertake remedial works within an appropriate timescale.

Most importantly for you, the fire risk assessments produced by LTM will satisfy the provisions of the new Fire Safety Order.

CRIMINAL PROSECUTIONS UNDER THE FIRE SAFETY ORDER

Failing to conform with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 can result in monetary fines and even 2 years imprisonment.

Without doubt, the most important consideration when looking at the Fire Safety Order is the protection of life.  However, failing to meet the requirements of the Fire Safety Legislation can also cost you in monetary terms too. Here are just a few examples of prosecutions made under the Fire Safety Order:

Mr Zamshed Alam, - sentenced to 6 months in prison & ordered to pay £1,500 towards costs

Mr Alam was the leaseholder and responsible person for the Bengal Raj restaurant on the Boulevard in Weston-super-Mare.  The case was brought following a fire safety inspection by Avon Fire & Rescue Service in July 2015 when breaches of the Regulatory Reform Fire Safety Order were discovered.

Due to the condition of the premises and the lack of fire safety provisions, a Prohibition Notice was served on the Mr Alam restricting the premises from any sleeping or resting. During a second inspection two separate breaches of the Prohibition Notice were discovered.

Fire Safety Order Breaches:

  • A failure to have a suitable fire risk assessment.
  • A failure to ensure the premises was equipped with appropriate fire detectors and alarms.
  • A failure to ensure that emergency routes and exits were fitted with adequate fire doors so that people could escape safely in the event of fire.
  • The storage of items in the single means of escape route staircase on both the ground and first floor.
  • A failure to comply with a notice prohibiting the use of the premises for sleeping accommodation.
New Look – £400,000

British global fashion retailer New Look who have a chain of high street shops in the UK, received the maximum possible fine of £400,000 following a fire that gutted the retailer’s Oxford Street store in 2007. 35 engines and 150 fire-fighters were needed to tackle the blaze and crews remained at the scene for the three days. Trade was disrupted at more than 50 Oxford Street shops. New Look pleaded guilty to two breaches of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 following prosecution by the London Fire Brigade.

Fire Safety Order Breaches:

  • Insufficient staff training
  • Storage blocking escape routes
The Chumleigh Lodge Hotel – £210,000

The manager and the sole director of the The Chumleigh Lodge Hotel in Finchley London, had denied 12 charges of neglecting fire safety laws under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 but was found guilty at Blackfriars Crown Court in February 2012. Inspections started after suspicions about the fire safety standards in the hotel after a fire broke out at the hotel in May 2008.

Fire Safety Order Breaches:

  • Faulty fire doors
  • Lack of smoke alarms in some of the guest-rooms
  • Inaccessible escape routes
  • Staff had not been trained to an appropriate standard in fire safety awareness
  • No evidence of any suitable fire risk assessment was produced
Douglas and Gordon Limited – £100,000

Letting agent Douglas and Gordon Limited based in London received their fine in July 2011 for failing to act on fire risk assessment. Douglas and Gordon Ltd pleaded guilty to three breaches of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 at Southwark Crown Court. London Fire Brigade carried out an audit of the communal areas after a fire broke out in a block of flats owned by the company.

Fire Safety Order Breaches:

  • Failing to act on significant findings within the Fire Safety Risk Assessment
  • Failure to make an emergency plan
  • Ensuring that fire doors were self-closing
  • Failure to install emergency lighting
Brian Silvester – £45,000

Shavington House Farm in Cheshire landlord, Councillor Brian Silvester was fined at Chester Crown Court for 11 fire safety offences in October 2012. A former tenant had raised concerns about safety breaches at the property.

 Fire Safety Order Breaches:

  • Broken smoke alarms
  • Loose wiring
  • Holes in the ceilings
  • Combustible materials in the corridors
Cumberland Court Limited – £22,000

Director of Cumberland Court Limited, Karim Moloo from Middlesex was fined £22,000 by the Warwickshire Justice Centre, Leamington Spa in January 2013 for several breaches of the Regulatory Reform Order (Fire Safety) 2005.

Fire Safety Order Breaches:

  • Failing to carry out a sufficient fire risk assessment
  • Not fitting suitable fire detectors and alarms
  • Having locked and blocked fire exits
  • Not having suitable testing arrangements in place for the emergency lighting
  • Failing to comply with an enforcement notice issued by West Midlands Fire Service

FIRE & RESCUE SERVICE – YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES:

The number of firefighters in the UK has declined since the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 was introduced in 2006.

In part, this reduction has been enabled by the transfer of key responsibilities from the Fire Brigade / Fire & Rescue Services to the Responsible Person(s) within a business.  

The Fire Safety Order replaces previous fire safety legislation. Any fire certificate issued under the Fire Precautions Act 1971 has now ceased to have any effect. The Fire Safety Order is a self-regulating item of legislation which has wide reaching powers to ensure suitable and sufficient provisions are made by the Responsible Person regarding fire safety measures. If not fully implemented this can leave the Responsible Person exposed to legal action.

Once a building is occupied, the Building Regulations consultation process does not prevent any subsequent enforcement action under the Fire Safety Order.

A common misconception is that once Building Regulations have ‘signed off’ the works, the building and Responsible Person are compliant with the Fire Safety Order. This is not always the case.

The Fire and Rescue Service’s role in fire evacuation is that of ensuring that the means of escape in case of fire and associated fire safety measures provided for all people who may be in a building are both adequate and reasonable, taking into account the circumstances of each particular case.

Under current fire safety legislation it is the responsibility of the person(s) having responsibility for the building to provide a fire safety risk assessment that includes an emergency evacuation plan for all people likely to be in the premises, including disabled people, and how that plan will be implemented.

Such an evacuation plan should not rely upon the intervention of the Fire and Rescue Service to make it work. In the case of multi-occupancy buildings, responsibility may rest with a number of persons for each occupying organisation and with the owners of the building. It is important that they co-operate and co-ordinate evacuation plans with each other. This could present a particular problem in multi-occupancy buildings when the different escape plans and strategies need to be co-ordinated from a central point.

The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA) does not make any change to these requirements: it underpins the current fire safety legislation in England and Wales – the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 – by requiring that employers or organisations providing services to the public take responsibility for ensuring that all people, including disabled people, can leave the building they control safely in the event of a fire.

LTM Fire Safety Consultants Ltd
121 Shortlands Road, Sittingbourne,
Kent ME10 3JT

enquiries@ltmfiresafety.co.uk

01795 358031