Fire Safety Order

The Regulatory Reform Order (Fire Safety) 2005

 

The fire safety order, better known as the Regulatory Reform Order (Fire Safety) 2005, (RRO 2005) is a piece of legislation introduced into law, actually in 2006. It replaces a large number of previously existing pieces of legislation, most notably the Fire Precautions Act 1971, and the 1997 Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations. There is only one bit of legislation now that covers fire safety for most premises. This includes places of business of any type i.e. hotels, care homes, shops, offices, building sites, pubs, restaurants, places of entertainment and also includes other establishments such as libraries, hospitals, and educational institutions. The RRO 2005 also covers the public areas of houses of multiple occupation, (HMO) assuming the property is a licensable HMO. There is another fire safety section in the Housing Act 2004, which covers smaller and certain other HMO's.

 

Its possibly easier to describe what’s not covered, peoples homes (Unless HMO’s), underground parts of mines, ships at sea, aircraft, prisons, military establishments and off shore installations. These are governed by separate bodies such as the Health and Safety Executive or the Ministry of Defence.

 

The RRO 2005 is risk assessment based legislation. The nominated responsible person and or persons are legally responsible and or corporately and liable for ensuring the premises and staff are suitable and sufficiently protected under the conditions of the RRO 2005.

 

The onus is on the responsible person to show that fire safety is suitably managed. If it is found not to be prosecutions may follow. If people get hurt as a result of mismanagement of fire safety criminal prosecutions will almost certainly follow. There are very few excuses that would stand up in a criminal court, regarding the RRO 2005. 

 

There are 53 articles, arranged in 5 parts which make up the bulk of the Regulatory Reform Order (fire safety) 2005. Articles 8 to 23 are the main bits to be concerned with in regard to offences. These 16 articles are the ones most offences are committed under.

 

Fire certificates are no longer valid – all are now revoked and although possibly useful for future risk assessment work (keep them!), they are legally useless.

 

The Responsible Person

 

The responsible person is nominated by their position in the company or ownership of company or building. The buck will always stop with someone. It could be the company secretary and/or board of directors or the buildings owner or landlord, especially if the building is not in use. Often managers will assume responsibility as part of their role but they need to be aware of the responsibilities fully. Landlords of houses of multiple occupation are responsible for fire safety these types of premise. One has recently been jailed because the building he rented out failed under a number RRO 2005 articles.

 

The level of fire safety management depends on the risks involved at the premises. Clearly a normal office environment would typically pose a lower risk than say a building site, hotel or a cinema. Its to do with life risk, especially sleeping life risk, a hotel or care home for example would have a higher level of fire safety management than a shop because there is more risk to people sleeping in a hotel, especially where the guest are not familiar with the building and its escape routes. Its also to do with process’s that occur in the building, although a workshop or building site may not have a sleeping life risk there are usually very significant sources of ignition and sources of fuel and other fire safety concerns. This doesn’t mean that lower risk premises won’t get inspected by the fire authorities – it’s the higher risk premises first especially since incidents like The Penhallow Hotel and the Rose Park Nursing Home.

 

 The full order can be found here - Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005

  

Offences Under The RRO 2005

 

There are 53 articles, arranged in 5 parts which make up the bulk of the Regulatory Reform Order (fire safety) 2005. Articles 8 to 23 are the main bits to be concerned with in regard to offences. These 16 articles are the ones most offences are committed under. They directly relate to the responsible persons duties, which if not carried out correctly will result in offences under the act being committed and may mean enforcement action. THERE ARE OTHERS, i.e. Article 37. This page just gives an outline and the commonest examples of offences which are often committed. The example offences are the type of thing written down on notices, court charges and or the pages of local and sometimes national press. More often these charges are linked to the business premises and the responsible person being found guilty of charges, resulting in amongst other things very negative publicity.

 

Of course the possible costs, after a fire if the work isn’t carried out in the first place could be far more severe.

Sentencing and Punishment Options range from:-

 

If dealt with in a magistrate’s court – Fines of around £5,000 for each offence are not uncommon. Possibility of unlimited fines and up to 2 years in prison also possible.

 

If dealt with in a Crown court – Unlimited fines and up to life imprisonment.

 

It’s worth bearing in mind that this page only relates to offences under the RRO 2005, and if people get hurt or worse, in a fire because of some sort of negligence other offences may come into account, possible corporately as well, i.e. in severe cases, manslaughter.

 

 RRO 2005 Articles of Note

 

Article 8 – Duty to take general fire precautions.

 

Article 9 – Fire risk assessment.

 

Article 10 – Principles of prevention applied.

 

Article 11 – Fire safety arrangements.

 

Article 12 – Elimination or reduction of risks from dangerous substances.

 

Article 13 – Fire fighting and detection.

 

Article 14 – Emergency routes and exits

 

Article 15 - Procedures

 

Article 16 – Additional emergency procedures in respect of dangerous substances.

 

Article 17 – Maintenance

 

Article 18 – Safety assistance

 

Article 19 – Information to employees

 

Article 20 – Information to employers of outside undertakings

 

Article 21 - Training

 

Article 22 – Co-operation and co-ordination.

 

Article 23 – General duties of employees

 

Article 37 – Fire-fighter switches for luminous tube signs etc.