Fire prevention – is it your responsibility?

If you are responsible for a commercial property it could be you who needs to meet the various obligations of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 to ensure the safety of anyone using the building. The consequences of an outdated fire risk assessment (FRA), poor fire escape plan or out of date fire equipment are potentially catastrophic.

Is it your responsibility?

If you are the owner, landlord, employer or occupier of a commercial property, or have ‘control of the premises’ as the facilities management or property management company,  it’s worth checking – you could be what the regulations term the ‘responsible person’. Even if you’re not responsible it’s good to know who is.

You need to Comply

If you are the ‘responsible person’ you need to find out exactly what your responsibilities are. A good start-point for ensuring compliance is to set up an annual fire risk assessment (FRA), which is intended to ensure that general fire precautions have been made and to identify any areas within the property that pose risk. All required remedial works identified should then be carried out as soon as possible following assessments, whether that is remedial work to fire doors, improvements to fire compartmentation or an upgrade of the fire detection system.

If you’ve recently taken over a building you should carry out your own FRA as the responsibility lies with you not the previous ‘responsible person’. Keep in mind that you’ll need to review your FRA if the building has a change of use or you make structural changes to the building (even something relatively minor like adding a partition wall may affect the FRA). In short, if you suspect that there’s any reason why the existing FRA should not be valid, get a new one.

What does an FRA cover?

  • Potential fire risks, including sources of ignition and accelerators and checking measures to reduce the spread of fire e.g. fire doors and partitions.
  • Means of escape from the building, ensuring that these can be safely and effectively used at all times, and that signage is adequate.
  • Emergency lighting
  • Fire-fighting provisions, including sprinkler systems, hose reels and fire extinguishers
  • Fire detection provisions, including fire and smoke detection and warning systems.
  • Arrangements for action to be taken in the event of fire on the premises
  • Danger areas
  • Flammable substances
  • Lightning protection

 The implications of non-compliance

Obviously, it’s important to ensure the safety of the people in your building and it may be that compliance with the fire safety regulations is a condition of your lease, mortgage or insurance so failure to comply with your duties could affect these. Placing people at risk by not fulfilling your responsibilities could result in fines or imprisonment. Worse still what if there is a fire and no FRA in place?

What next?

Our sister company, Darenth Valley Building Services can either manage the Fire Risk Assessment on your behalf, or if you have one and there are any corrective works required, they can implement these for you. They will also let you know when it’s time for a review.

They can also carry out portable appliance testing (PAT) to ensure devices in the building do not present a fire hazard.

In short, they can help you to keep your building compliant and the people in it happy and safe.

If you are unsure of the about any aspect of commercial fire regulations or how your building is protected please Darenth Valley Building Services on 01322 615 665.