Ensuring Your Business and People are Safe
What exactly is fire safety compliance?
Simply put, it’s making sure your business meets current UK fire safety legislation.
It’s the law.
Ensuring you have done everything possible to keep your business and your people as safe as possible from the risk of fire is a legal requirement. Not complying with the law can cost you your business, and potentially people’s lives!
So yes. It’s a serious matter. One that we want to help you with.
This quick guide spells out exactly what you need to do to make sure you’re compliant with current fire legislation.
What is the current Fire Safety Legislation?
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 is the current UK fire compliance legislation. Bit of a mouthful so we’ll shorten it to the RRO.
In a nutshell, the RRO exists to make sure any person who has some level of control in premises has taken reasonable steps to reduce the risk from fire and make sure people can safely escape if there is a fire.
The main rules under the order are to:
carry out a fire risk assessment to identify possible dangers and risks
consider who may be especially at risk
eliminate or minimise the risk from fire as far as is reasonably possible and provide general fire precautions to deal with any possible risk left
take other measures to make sure there is protection if flammable or explosive materials are used or stored
create a plan to deal with any emergency and keep a record of your findings
review your findings if necessary
Where does Fire Safety Legislation apply?
In the UK fire safety legislation applies to all non-domestic premises. It also applies to houses of multiple occupancy (HMOs). In England and Wales, all common areas of blocks of flats are classed as non-domestic too.
What’s a ‘Responsible Person’?
Anyone who has some element of control over the premises has duties under fire safety legislation. However, a ‘Responsible Person’ is someone legally designated to be responsible for fire safety. It can be split between different people, with each person taking ownership of different aspects of the fire safety.
What does a ‘Responsible Person’ do? They need to make sure that:
all basic fire safety measures for the premises are in place
all fire protection equipment is kept in good working order
people can escape safely in the event of a fire
First Step to Fire Safety Compliance?
Get a fire risk assessment. For every commercial building, every HMO and every block of flats with a common area, it’s the law. There are severe penalties for non-compliance.
You can do a fire risk assessment yourself, but we strongly advise against this. Unless you’re savvy with fire safety law, it’s best to get the experts in.
A fire risk assessment will identify all potential fire risks and hazards. It will also look at existing fire protection methods and assess whether they are sufficient. It will look at:
fire alarm systems
fire sprinkler systems
means of escape
If your business employs 5 or more people, it’s a legal requirement to keep a written copy of the fire risk assessment. You must also record any actions taken against any non-conformities found in the risk assessment.
It doesn’t end there though. We recommend you have your fire risk assessment reviewed every year. Because things change, laws get updated, best practice is reviewed. However, if significant changes happen such as change of use of a building, moving processes from one place to another, or a building is extended for example, then it’s imperative to have your fire risk assessment reviewed immediately.
What’s your Emergency Plan?
Don’t have one? Then it’s time to develop one.
You want everyone to get out in the shortest time possible. An emergency plan helps to make sure everyone responds to an emergency in the correct way and that any issues with evacuating the building are identified.
In a simple building the ‘Responsible Person’ may be able to formulate a plan. For anything more complex though, it’s wise to have your plan developed by a fire safety adviser.
As with your fire risk assessment, your emergency plan will need reviewing and updating if any significant changes to the building occur.
Fire Safety Training
If a fire broke out it’s vital your staff know what to do.
Have your employees received any fire training in the last 12 months? Do you have trained fire wardens to help coordinate an evacuation?
If the answer to either of those is no, then you’re not compliant with fire safety legislation.
All members of staff should receive fire safety awareness training on induction, with refresher training every 12 months.
You should also have a number of designated fire wardens. Their role is to help ensure the evacuation of a building goes smoothly in the event of a fire. They’ll need more in-depth training than the basic fire safety awareness training.
Fire Evacuation Drills
As well as fire safety training, you also have to carry out regular fire evacuation drills. This is a legal requirement.
It helps to evaluate if your emergency plan is effective and helps to consolidate staff fire safety training.
A fire drill should be held every 12 months at least, but it’s recommended to carry out two in a 12 month period. It’s also important you record the evacuation drill in your fire logbook.
Fire Alarm Maintenance
It’s a legal requirement to have your fire alarm system regularly maintained and serviced. This helps to ensure that all detectors, call points, beacons, sounders and panels are all fault free and working as they should. BS 5839 states your fire alarm system should be maintained every 6 months. However, depending on the results of your fire risk assessment this may be quarterly.
Emergency Light Maintenance
To comply with BS 5266 standard, a monthly test needs to be carried out. A full discharge test also needs completing by a qualified engineer every 12 months.
Fire Extinguisher Maintenance
These need servicing every year in accordance with BS 5036. Every 5 years water, foam, powder, and wet chemical extinguishers also need a discharge test.
Any fire doors must be installed properly and maintained to help prevent fire spreading from one area to another. It’s the ‘Responsible Person’s’ job to check all elements of the fire door including intumescent seals and self-closing hinges. This should be done at least twice a year. There are fire door assessment courses available, or you can have them maintained as part of your routine fire system maintenance package.
Dry Riser Maintenance
Dry risers are a requirement in all buildings over 18 metres tall. Testing and inspection of all dry riser components is required annually, with a visual inspection every 6 months.
BS 9251 recommends maintenance of sprinkler systems is conducted every 6 months.
Gaseous Fire Suppression Systems
Gas suppression systems should be maintained at least every 6 months according to BS5306. Suppressants will need to be inspected and refilled where necessary. A room integrity test, where the room that’s going to be protected is tested for air tightness, is required annually.
Air Aspirating Systems
These are used in places such as data centres and cold stores. Because of the importance of these systems, it’s recommended they’re visually inspected every day. A maintenance check is recommended every 3 to 6 months, depending on the environment it’s located in.
Fire Hose Reels
Fire hose maintenance should be carried out on an annual basis as a minimum, to ensure compliance with BS 5306-1:2006. The entire hose should be unwound to check for damage, nozzles and valves inspected, and the fire hose tested under normal pressure.
Fire Safety Signage
Fire safety signage is a legal requirement too. It instructs people which direction to take to evacuate a building in the quickest and safest way.
Regulations state that these signs must be white on a green background, and that they comply with the recommended size guidelines. They also need to be illuminated by both normal and emergency lighting to ensure they can be seen easily in the event of an emergency.
How to ensure your business is fire compliant
At Triple Star Fire & Security, we are passionate about fire safety compliance.
We don’t like companies not taking their fire safety responsibilities seriously. We don’t like putting people’s lives at risk unnecessarily.
What we do like is helping companies be compliant with fire safety legislation. And we definitely like making sure lives are protected.
If you’re concerned about the fire safety compliance of your business premises, then call us. Before it’s too late and you’re either facing legal consequences or worse still, someone’s life is lost.
Fire safety compliance is that serious.