Fire Safety Law

The main fire safety law for this country is now the Regulatory Reform (fire safety) Order 2005 (FSO). There are others which are partially concerned with fire safety such as the Housing Act 2004 and the Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2007 (CDM 2007) for example. The local fire authority enforces under the FSO. The local council enforces under the Housing Act 2004 and the Health and Safety Executive ( HSE) enforces under the CDM regulations. The HSE also regulates fire safety issues at certain other sites and premises, for example where dangerous or hazardous substances are in place or where the FSO is not covering the premises.

There is often some overlap with different fire safety laws and regulations.

All modern fire safety law is risk assessment based.

The Regulatory Reform (fire safety) Order 2005, (RRO 2005)  

The FSO (fire safety order), is a piece of legislation actually introduced into law in 2006. It replaces a large number of previously existing bits of legislation, most notably the Fire Precautions Act 1971 and the 1997 Fire Precaution (workplace) Regulations and now forms the backbone of most fire safety enforcement in England and Wales. It covers most work places. 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 HSE or the Ministry of Defence.

RRO 2005 Full Document

Find out more on the FSO  

The Housing Act 2004

The housing act has a section concerning fire safety that enables the local council to prosecute landlords and/or managing agents of any Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) if fire safety duties are not carried out. The FSO covers all licensable HMOs but only the commonly accessible areas. It is possible that dual prosecutions (local council and fire authority) can occur. Several HMO landlords have been imprisoned now.

Housing Act 2004 Full Document

The Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2007 (CDM 2007)

  The CDM regulations regarding fire safety are enforced by the Health and Safety Executive ( HSE).

CDM 2007 applies to most common building, civil engineering and engineering construction work. Building and construction sites which do not affect a premises where normal work is carried out, e.g. a new build site on its own, is covered by the HSE regarding fire safety. If the premises is still in use or fire on the site can affect a premise which is in other normal use, the FSO will also apply and a prosecution could come from the local fire authority for any fire safety breaches.

CDM 2007 fire safety requirements are risk assessment based, similar to the FSO.

CDM 2007, Part 4, sections: 38 (prevention of risk from fire), 39 (emergency procedures), 40 (emergency routes and exits), and 41(fire detection and fire-fighting) cover fire safety on the relevant building sites.

CDM 2007 Full Document

The Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation ( England) Regulations 2006

The management of Houses in Multiple Occupation Regs are enforced by the local housing authority. Parts 4 relate to fire safety and part 6 to Gas and Electricity supply and testing. This is an important law for landlords and managing agents of HMO’s, despite the fact it is a small document.

The Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation ( England) Regulations 2006 Full Document

The Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 (DSEAR 2002)

DSEAR 2002 includes a risk assessment requirement plus measures for reducing risks from fire and explosion arising from dangerous substances (e.g., flammables such as petrol, paints, solvents) at the workplace. DSEAR also requires employers to maintain work processes in an efficient state, in working order and in good repair, but again this is based on the findings of the risk assessment.

There are certain sectors where, because of the nature of the work, HSE has enforcement responsibility for all fire precautions (including general fire precautions) such as offshore installations, underground mines, nuclear sites, ships under construction and some construction sites.

DSEAR 2002 Full Document

The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 (FFR 1988)  

The FFR 1988 regs were essentially bought in due to the high numbers of fire fatalities caused by smoking materials setting alight foam filled furniture in peoples homes. The were also significant fires involving foam filled furniture in other types of premises, notably for example Woolworths in Manchester, 1979. Furniture should have covering that passes the ‘cigarette test’ and the foam should pass the ‘ignitability test’ both of which are recognised British Standards.

Furniture which complies to these standards will be suitably marked with a swing label of some description. In theory it should be very hard to buy furniture in the UK which does not conform to these regulations, unless perhaps buying second hand furniture, where due care should be taken.

The FFR 1988 regs Full Document