Last edited 04 Mar 2016

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (sometimes referred to as the Fire Safety Order (FSO) or the RRO) came into force in 2006.

It was intended to “...reduce burdens on business that are caused by the existence of multiple, overlapping general fire safety regimes – and consequently overlap of the responsibilities of enforcing authorities.... consolidate and rationalise much existing fire safety legislation (and) reduce the number of enforcing authorities dealing with general fire safety matters.”

It replaces most previous fire safety legislation.

The Order requires that owners of premises other than private dwellings appoint a responsible person (the person having control of the building, or a degree of control) who takes reasonable steps to reduce the risk from fire and makes sure people can safely escape if there is a fire. This includes all people that might visit the premises.

This duty involves carrying out a fire risk assessment, or ensuring one is carried out. This will include:

  • Identifying fire hazards.
  • Considering who may be at risk.
  • Eliminating or reducing risk where reasonably possible.
  • Providing fire precautions to deal with remaining risk.
  • Taking special precautions where there are flammable or explosive materials.
  • Recording major findings of the risk assessment and the action taken. This will include informing and instructing relevant people, providing training and creating an emergency plan.
  • Reviewing the findings regularly and when necessary.

Fire authorities no longer issue fire certificates. However, they remain the main agency responsible for enforcement, carrying out inspections, assessing complaints and undertaking investigations. They have the power to offer advice, issue formal notices, and prevent premises from being used for certain purposes. They may issue alterations notices for high risk premises, requiring that they are informed if certain alterations are planned to the premises.

A review of the Order published by the Department for Business Innovation & Skills in 2013, Enforcement of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, found that the need for the Order was generally understood, however:

  • There is considerable discretion as to how each fire authority approaches its duties, leading to frustrating inconsistencies.
  • There is a strong sense that fire protection departments are given less prominence than operational fire-fighters or community safety teams.
  • Many small businesses are not aware of their specific responsibilities under the changes made to the legislation.

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