UK fire safety legislation changed in
October 2006. The Fire Precautions Act 1971 and the Fire
Precautions (Workplace) Regulations 1997 were scrapped, along with many
other fire safety regulations embedded in other statutes such as Residential
Care Homes and Licensed premises etc. Fire certificates have
been scrapped, and employers are now solely responsible for fire safety
within their workplaces.
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order2005
was due to become
law in April 2006, but was delayed until October 1st 2006. The Fire
Safety Order applies to England and Wales
only, Scotland has its own legislation, the Fire Safety (Scotland)
Regulations 2006, which are similar in that they are risk assessment based,
but there are some slight differences such as referring to 'person or
persons who have control to any extent of the relevant premises' rather than
a 'responsible person'.
The new regulations are largely based on the Fire
Precautions (Workplace) Regulations, and the Dangerous Substances and
Explosive Atmosphere Regulations (DSEAR). The
regulations apply to all 'non-domestic'
premises, and will also apply to
the self employed, with only a few minor exceptions.
Several guidance documents are now available
to purchase (or download free) from the government website which can be
found by typing 'fire safety guidance' into your search engine.
The fire risk assessment element of the Fire Precautions
(Workplace) Regulations will remain, and additional duties will be imposed,
The duty to prevent fire spread;
A duty to maintain Building Regulation standards for the use
and protection of the fire service;
A duty to appoint one or more employees to assist in
ensuring compliance with the regulations (such as a fire marshal);
Like the Health & Safety at Work Act, it will
be up to the responsible person to demonstrate that they did everything
'reasonably practicable' to prevent injury, and there is a civil
liability if a breach of duty causes harm.
The fire service role is that of enforcement similar to
the HSE for general health & safety matters.
Insurance companies will no doubt include clauses to ensure
their clients are complying with the law, with obvious connotations where
there is a lack of compliance ie they may refuse to pay some or all of an
insurance claim. Many insurers are already insisting on the installation of
sprinklers, which would be the obvious way to prevent fire spread. see
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