Last edited 07 Jul 2021

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 and covers general fire safety in England and Wales. In Scotland, requirements on general fire safety are covered in Part 3 of the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005, supported by the Fire Safety (Scotland) Regulations 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 law applies to; commercial businesses, shops, offices, care facilities, factories, warehouses, community halls, schools, pubs, restaurants, hostels, hotels, and any person who is responsible for the common areas of multi-family housing units. If you are self employed and use a building including your own home for your business, it applies to you and your home. Also, charity organisations are included, and if you are a contractor and have even temporary control over a building or structure you can be deemed responsible for that structure.

The Order requires that a responsible person (the person having control of the building, or a degree of control) 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. For more information, see Responsible person under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

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:

On 6 June 2019, following the Grenfell Tower fire, the Home Office issued a call for evidence on the Fire Safety Order seeking views on its effectiveness and application to provide a regulatory framework for the ongoing management of fire safety in non-domestic premises and the common parts of multi-occupied residential buildings. The consultation closed on 31 July 2019. Ref

On 19 March 2020, the government published a summary of responses to the Fire Safety Order 2005 (FSO) call for evidence, which invited views on the application of the FSO and changes that might be needed. While respondents identified some areas where the FSO could be amended to provide greater clarity, most respondents agreed that the scope and objectives of the FSO remain appropriate for all regulated premises. A consultation will be held later in 2020 on proposals and next steps. Ref

On 19 March 2020 the Home Office also introduced a bill to improve fire safety in buildings in England and Wales. The proposed Fire Safety Bill is a response to the Grenfell Tower Fire on 14 June 2017. It will amend the Fire Safety Order 2005 to clarify that the responsible person or duty-holder for multi-occupied, residential buildings must manage and reduce the risk of fire for:

On 17 March 2021, the Government announced plans to issue unlimited fines to anyone caught obstructing or impersonating a fire inspector as well as to those who breach fire safety regulations under the Fire Safety Order. These measures will amend the Fire Safety Order and will include a requirement for fire risk assessments to be recorded for each building and improve how fire safety information is handed over throughout the lifetime of a building.

The regulations, which will be part of the legislation in the Building Safety Bill, will also allocate £16 million to fire and rescue authorities.

For more information see: Fire Safety Bill.

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