Fire safety legislation

Fire safety legislation obviously differs from country to country; however, the principles are always the same – to reduce the risk to life and property from the threat of fire.

In the UK, the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (RRO) and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (MHSWR) require employers to carry out a fire risk assessment, and to provide and maintain such fire precautions as are necessary to safeguard those who use the workplace. They also require employees to be provided with relevant information, instruction and training about fire precautions.

Under the RRO, responsibility for fire safety is that of the ‘Responsible Person’ for the building or premises. The ‘Responsible Person’ means, in relation to a workplace, the employer, if the workplace is to any extent under his control. The Responsible Person should assess the risks of fire and take steps to remove or reduce those risks. The RRO also imposes obligations in respect of firefighting, fire detection, emergency routes and exits, and procedures to deal with serious and imminent danger.

The fire safety regime is based on an assessment of risk, the removal of hazards and the protection of persons from any hazards that remain. Its aim is to seek to prevent fires from starting and to mitigate the effect of fire. In respect of employees, the Responsible Person owes a duty to take such general fire precautions as will ensure (so far as is reasonably practicable) their safety. In respect of Relevant Persons who are not employees (e.g. visitors, contractors etc.), the duty is to take such general fire precautions as may reasonably be required, in the circumstances, to ensure that the premises are safe.