A short guide to making your premises safe

What is the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005?

It replaces most fire safety legislation with one simpleorder. It means that any person who has some level of controlin premises must take reasonable steps to reduce the risk fromfire and make sure people can safely escape if there is a fire.

What this guide will do?

Itwill direct you in a simple step-by-step guide achieve the safest outcome without, the need for any specialist or formal knowledge or training.Fire safety is often common sense but you will have to set aside time to workthrough the necessary steps. Premises orthose with many people at risk, such as care homes, hospitalsor large cinemas, you may need more expert help.

Where does the order apply?

All premises and covers nearly every type of building, structure and open space.

It applies to:

• offices and shops;

• premises that provide care, care homes and hospitals;

• community halls, places of worship and other community premises;

• shared areas of properties several households live in (housing laws may also apply);

• pubs, clubs and restaurants;

• schools and sports centres;

• tents and marquees;

• hotels and hostels; and

• factories and warehouses.

It does not apply to:

• private homes, including individual flatsin a block or house.

What are the main rules under the order?

You must:

• have a fire-riskassessment identifying any possible dangers and risks;

• identify who may beat risk;

• reduce or remove therisk from fire andprovide fireprecautions to deal with any possible risk left;

• take other actions to make sure there is protection ifflammable or explosive materials are used or stored;

• create an emergency plan, in most cases, keep a record of your findings; and

• review your findings when necessary.

Who is responsible for meeting the order?

Anyone who has control of premises or anyone who has some control over certain areas or systems maybe a ‘responsible person’. For example, it could be:

• the employer for those parts of premises staff may go to;

• the managing agent or owner for shared parts of premisesor shared fire safety equipment such as fire-warning systems or sprinklers;

• the occupier, such as self-employed people or voluntary organisations if they have any control; or

• any other person who has some control over a part of the premises.

How do I meet the order?

The responsible person must ensure to carry out a fire risk assessment.

The responsible person must ensure that everyone on the premises, or nearby, can escape safely if there is a fire.

The diffence here from previous legislation means you mustconsider everyone who might be on your premises, employees,visitors or members of the public. Pay particular attention to people who may have a disabilityor anyone who may need special help.

The order states you must manage any fire-risk in yourpremises. Fire authorities no longer issue fire certificates andthose previously issued will have no legal status.You must still carry out fire-risk assessments.

All modern building designs structural fire precautions should be acceptable. You will still need to carry out a fire-risk assessment, making sure you keep up all fire precautions and maintenance routines.

1. Identify fire hazards


• sources of ignition;

• sources of fuel; and

• sources of oxygen.

2. Identify people at risk


• people in and around the premises; and

• people who are especially at risk.

3. Record, plan, inform, instruct, and train

• Record any major findings and what action you have taken.

• Liaise and work with other responsible people.

• develop an emergency plan.

• Inform and instruct relevant people.

• Provide training.


• your fire-risk assessment regularly.

• Amend changes where necessary.

5. Evaluate, remove or reduce, and protect from risk

• Evaluate the risk of a fire starting.

• Evaluate the risk of fire to people.

• Remove or reduce fire hazards.

• Remove or reduce the risks to people from a fire.

• Protect people by providing fire precautions.

Step 1 – Identify the hazards within your premises

You need to identify:

• sources of ignition; naked flames, heaters orsome commercial processes;

• sources of fuel; built-up waste, display materials, textiles or overstocked products; and

• sources of oxygen; air conditioning or medicinal or commercial oxygen supplies.

Step 2 – Identify people at risk

You need to identify those people who may be especially at risk such as:

• anyone working near fire dangers;

• anyone working alone or in isolated areas(such as in roof spaces or storerooms);

• children or parents with babies; and

• the elderly or people who are disabled.

Step 3 – Evaluate, remove, reduce and protect from risk.

By evaluating the level of risk in your premises, you can remove or reduce any fire hazards where possible and reduce any risks you have identified. For example, you should:

• replacing highly flammable materials with less flammable ones;

• ensuring you separate flammable materials from sources of ignition; and

• adopt a safe-smoking policy.

Once the risks have been reduced, any further risk left should be assessed and measures put in place to provide adequate level of fire safety.

This guide provided may not give a detailed guidance for each individual type of premises. However the minimum will the following.

A fire-detection and warning system

• To have suitable fire-detectionand warning system. This can include a shouted warning to an electrical detection and warning system.

• The system you may have should warn all people in all circumstances.

A way of fighting a small fire

• having multi-purpose fire extinguishers with a guaranteed shelf life may be acceptable.

• As a rule you should have one extinguisher forevery 200 metre squared (m2) of floor space with at least one on each floor.

Main Types of portable extinguishers

• Water – for use on wood, paper, textile and solid material fires. Not to be used on electrical or metal fires

• Powder – for use on liquid and electrical fires. Not to be used on metal fires.

• Foam – use on liquid fires. Not to be used on electrical or metal fires.

• Carbon dioxide (CO2) – for use on liquid and electrical fires. Not to be used on metal fires

Safe routes for people to leave the premises

• ideally to have more than one escaperoute from all parts of the premises, although this is not always possible.

• You may need to install an automatic fire-detection system if only one escape route is available.

• Distance to the fire exits needs to be short as possible. The distance needs to be measured from the farthest point in a room to the door to aprotected stairway or, if there is no protected stairway, to thefinal exit from the building.

• The travel distance should notbe more than 18 metres if there is only one exit. Parts of the premises where there is a high risk of fire starting or spreading quickly, the distance should beshorter (12 metres or less).Where the chance of fire starting and spreading is at a lower risk the distance can be longer (up to about 25 metres).

• Where there is multiple escape routes, travel distanceshould not be more than 45 metres (25metres in areas where there is high risk 60metres in areas where there is low risk).

• keeping clear all stairways, corridors and areas near the fire exits from material that may catch fire.

• The escape route should lead to a final exit and a safe place.

• unprotected stairways, travel distance should bein line with the above. Single escape routesand the final exit should be easy to see and accessible from thestairway at ground-floor level.

• High-risk areas or rooms should not open directly into afire-protected stairway.

• other fire protection measures may be needed if your fire-risk assessment shows that people using any floor would not be aware of a fire. example, an automatic fire-detection andwarning system.

Above guideline should be followed with caution. Assessing each part of the premises, you will know how to decide how quicklypeople would react to a warning of fire. Get expert advice is in doubt or if your premises provide care or sleeping facilities. Factories and warehouses can havelonger distances to travel to escape the fire.

Suitable fire exit doors

• fire exit doors and any doorson the escape routes should be easily used without a key and without any specialist knowledge.

• premises used by the public or large numbers of people, may need push (panic) bars or push pads.

Other things to consider

• you may need emergency lighting.

• fire-safety signs in all but the smallest premises.

• staff training or anyone else you may reasonably expect to help in a fire.

• make sure that you maintainyour fire safety systems.Very small and simple premises may be able to satisfy all these steps without difficulty. You should still be ableto show that you have carried out all the steps.

Step 4 – Record, plan, instruct, inform and train

Record the dangers and people you have identified as especially at risk in step 1 and step 2. Record also what you did about it in step 3. Make an emergency plan tailored to your premises.

It needs to include the action that you need to take in a fire inyour premises or any premises nearby. Ensuring you givestaff, and occasionally others, such as hotel guests or volunteerstewards, instructions. All employees should receive adequateinformation and training about the risks in the premises. Fire marshals will need more thorough training.

Step 5 – Review

Keep your fire-risk assessment is up to date.Re-examine your fire-risk assessment if you think it is no longer valid, such as after a near miss and every time there is a change to the level of risk in your premises. This could include:

• storing more materials which can catch fire easily;

• a new night shift starting; or

• a change in the type or number of people using your premises.

Enforcing the order

Fire authorities are responsible for enforcingall fire-safety legislation in non-domestic premises. They will inspect those premises that present the highest risk. Fire authorities will carry out investigations after fires and may carry out targeted inspections on premises that have a poor fire safety management.

Practical advice will be given by the fire authority or formal notices issued if the risk is serious.The fire authority will work with you toachieve a satisfactory level of fire safety.

Where serious risk is found the fire authority can issue a notice preventing the premises being used for certain things, such as sleeping or preventing people from using all or part of the premises. Housing authorities share this power with the fire authoritiesin properties which several households live in.

In all cases you will have a right of appeal, both informally and formally.

Informal appeals to an experienced fire-safety manager may identify a different way of meeting the order.

If not successful, you can appeal formally to a magistrate.If you cannot agree on technical issues from the enforcing authority, you may ask for a formal decision from the Secretary of State.

If you change your premises

You must be aware that any changes to your premises needs to follow building regulations. You must manage the risks that the changes bring and look at your original fire risk assessment again.See how the new changes will affect the risk to the premises, and make the necessary changes.

If the changes present a higher risk to life or complicated fire safety arrangements are needed, the fire authority may issue an alterations notice. You need to tell them about any changes that might pose an increase in risk.

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