The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005
Legislation covering fire safety in the UK has gone through a dramatic change. The Fire Precautions Act 1971 and the Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations 1997 have been repealed, along with many other fire safety regulations embedded in other statutes. Fire certificates have ceased to exist and employers have become solely responsible for fire safety within their workplaces – this includes outdoor event sites as well building and temporary structures.
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order became law on October 1st 2006. The regulations are largely based on the Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations, and the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmosphere Regulations (DSEAR). Companies were given a three-month lead in period to comply with the act. The regulations apply to all workplaces, premises, temporary structures and outdoor sites.
The fire risk assessment element of the Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations have remained, with additional duties imposed, such as:
• The duty to prevent fire spread.
• A duty to maintain Building Regulation standards for the use and protection of the fire service.
• A duty to appoint one or more employees to assist in ensuring compliance with the regulations (such as Fire Marshals / Wardens).
The picture to the left shows eighty cars burnt out in festival car park, caused by a burning cigarette end accidentally dropped in a field of straw stubble!
• The purpose of fire fighting equipment is clarified, in that, it is there to enable a small fire to be attacked to prevent fire spreading.
• There is a duty to appoint a named responsible person, who will normally be the employer, venue operator or event promotor.
Like the Health & Safety at Work Act, it is up to the responsible person to demonstrate that they did everything ‘reasonably practicable’ to prevent injury, and there will be a civil liability if a breach of duty causes harm.
The fire service role is that of enforcement similar to the HSE for general health and safety matters. Some insurance companies have included clauses to ensure their clients are complying with the law. Where there is a lack of compliance they may refuse to pay some or all of an insurance claim.
Each individual company is responsible for its own fire safety. The employer (event organiser or promoter) must conduct a fire risk assessment regardless of the size of the risk.
There is now extended scope of consideration to include property safety, fire fighter safety and the environment around the site as well as protecting life. This means that allowing a building to be sacrificed is unacceptable due to the risk to neighbouring buildings, fire fighters and the environment.
Protection is explicitly extended to all occupants and not just employees. Visitors, contractors or passers-by also have to be considered in the risk assessment.
Fire Safety Duties
The “duty holder” (normally the employer) has a duty to:
• Conduct a Fire Safety Risk Assessment (a methodical and organised look at your premises, the activities and the likelihood that a fire could start and cause harm to those in and around the premises) and record any significant findings.
• Appoint a competent person to carry out preventive and protective measures required by the Order.
• The Risk Assessment must be carried out by a competent person who has the knowledge, experience and training to carry out fire risk assessments. STAGESAFE is able to carry out a Fire Risk Assessments if required – please contact us for details.
• Provide employees with all relevant information with regards to the assessment’s findings.
• Nominate individuals to carry out particular roles.
• Inform non-employees of the risks.
• Co-operate and co-ordinate where buildings have shared occupancy.
• Consider the presence of any dangerous substances and the risk they present in the case of fire.
• Establish a suitable means of communication with the emergency services.
• Provide appropriate information, instruction and training to employees.
• Ensure that fire protection equipment is maintained by competent personnel and recorded.
• Employees must co-operate to ensure the workplace is safe from fire and its effects.
The enforcing authority (Fire Service) can inspect the premises or venue at any time to ensure that a suitable fire risk assessment has been carried out, that the significant findings have been acted upon and a fire safety log book is kept. For a premises requiring a license, under the Licencing Act 2003, for entertainment etc. including an out door event, non compliance can mean immediate closure of the event or premises.
Be aware that an improvemet notice, prohibition notice or legal proceedings may result with fines and/or imprisonment as penailites.