Fire safety regulations must be one of your top priorities when you own any business. Consider the health and safety of your staff and customers at all times. It can be difficult for a business to recover from a fire and following a major fire, businesses do not reopen or fail very soon.
Be aware that compliance with the regulations isn’t a choice. If you fail to meet the Fire Safety Regulations you are risking receiving a fine or a prison sentence. Importantly, it may mean that there are potential health and fire hazards on your premises that must be resolved.
Who is responsible?
You are responsible for health and fire safety is you are an Employer, the Owner, the Landlord, an Occupier or anyone who is in control of the premises. As that person you must carry out fire risk assessments on a regular basis, inform the staff of identified risks, put in place and maintain fire safety measures, plan for an emergency and provide staff with fire safety instruction and training.
Fire risk assessments
As the responsible person you must carry out and regularly review a fire risk assessment of the premises to identify any problems or noncompliance. If the business employs five or more people, then you must keep a written record of the assessment.
As part of the assessment, you should identify Fire Hazards, identify people at risk, remove or reduce the risk, record your findings, prepare and emergency plan and provide training.
On a regular basis you will need to evaluate Emergency Routes and exits, Fire Detection and warning systems, Fire Fighting equipment, the Removal of dangerous substances, a Emergency Evacuation plan, the Needs of more vulnerable people, and provide Training and information to all people on the premises.
Fire safety and evacuations plans
Your plan must show a Clear Passageway to all exit routes, clearly marked Exit Routes that are as short as possible, enough Exit routes for all staff, Emergency Doors that work properly, Emergency Lighting where needed, Training for all staff and a Safe Meeting Point for all staff. Also, you must make special arrangements for people with mobility needs, such as wheelchair users.
Fire safety equipment, drills and training
You must have a fire detection and warning system. You must have the appropriate types of equipment, properly installed, tested and maintained and provide training on how to use them.
Any new staff should receive training when they start their employment.
You need to carry out at least one fire drill each year and record and keep the results as part of your evacuation plan.
Enforcements, appeals and penalties
Your local fire and rescue authority visits premises to check the fire risk assessment and fire prevention measures are appropriate. Fire safety officers should help you understand the rules and comply with them.
They can also take action if they think your fire safety measures aren’t adequate. For example, they might issue an informal notice suggesting safety measures.
They could also give you a formal fire safety notice. They’ll tell you how to fix the problems described in the notice.
You could be given an Alterations Notice if your premises have a high safety risk. You could be given an Enforcement Notice if a serious risk is found that is not being addressed, which will include what improvements are needed and by when. You could be given a Prohibition Notice when the visiting authority considers the fire risk to be so great that access to your premises should be prohibited or restricted with immediate effect. If you disagree with any of these Notices, you can arrange a review.
If you fail to follow fire safety regulations, you could be fined or go to prison. Minor penalties can be up to £5,000, major penalties can result in unlimited fines and up to two years in prison.
• Appoint a Responsible Person
• Understand that compliance with fire regulations isn’t a choice
• Follow all the correct procedures to avoid being fined or sent to prison but more importantly to protect the health and safety of all the people on the premises