Fire Safety Law

Fire Safety law [FS law] in the UK* applies to any place (with a few exceptions, most notably domestic premises) and requires duty holders to ensure the safety of people in respect of harm caused by fire.  The people responsible for that safety include:

  • employers, persons who have control of premises in which any undertaking takes place, and owners; and
  • people with control of premises (to any extent) to the extent of their obligation, together with contractors and tenants (in relation to maintenance, repair or safety of premises)).

If you operate, occupy, or have control of applicable premises you are likely to have responsibility for fire safety.  Your responsibility will be in proportion to your level of control; the more control you have, the greater your responsibility.  More than one person can have fire safety responsibilities and are required to co-operate with each other and co-ordinate their fire safety measures. Employers always retain responsibility for the safety of employees.

If your role in relation to any premises is described above, you are likely to have to comply with Fire Safety law and are required to:

  1. assess fire safety risks;
  2. put in place measures to reduce the risk of fire; and
  3. put in place measures to protect people from harm caused by fire.

If this is you, we recommend that you record what has been done / will be done to keep people safe in case of fire and any persons (or group of people) identified as being especially at risk, together with your fire safety arrangements**.  This information must be recorded if:

  • you employ 5 or more employees;
  • a licence is in force in relation to the premises; or
  • an alterations notice (requiring it) is in force.

Fire and Rescue Authorities enforce FS law in most places to which that law applies.

To coordinate the enforcement of FS law and to encourage consistency, The Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA) established the Business Safety Group (BSG).  The group has created guides and example policy templates for Fire and Rescue Authorities to use and (where necessary) adapt.  These have been checked for legal content (in England and Wales) and are available to be freely downloaded and adapted for local use.

UK Governments have developed sector specific guidance which can be found by visiting the CFOA 'Government Guidance' page.

Information specific to Scotland can be found here. Northern Ireland is in the process of producing a suite of 11 guidance documents.  As of March 2015 five Northern Ireland documents have been approved.  The remaining 6 of 11 documents borrow from England and Wales and are available here.

* In England and Wales: the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005; in Scotland: the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005 and the Fire Safety (Scotland) Regulations 2006; in Northern Ireland: the Fire and Rescue Services (Northern Ireland) Order 2006 and the Fire Safety Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2010.

** fire safety arrangements mean such arrangements as are appropriate, having regard to the size of the undertaking and the nature of its activities, for the effective planning, organisation, control, monitoring and review of the measures put in place to reduce the risk of fires and to protect people from harm caused by fire.