If you own, run or manage a business, you have a duty to make sure the fire safety arrangements for that business comply with the law.
The law that governs fire safety in England and Wales is the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, also known as the ‘Fire Safety Order’ (FSO).
In addition to the FSO, there may be further guidance you should be aware of, depending on your type of property.
The Fire Safety Order
Premises it applies to
The FSO applies to all non-domestic premises. This means any premises that are not private residential dwellings including:
- commercial premises
- premises that the public can access
- common areas in residential buildings with multiple occupants eg the common public areas of a block of flats, but not the flats themselves
- premises with paying guests, for example, bed and breakfast accommodation, holiday lets and guesthouses
- houses with multiple occupants (HMOs)
People who are responsible
The legal responsibility for making sure a business complies with the Fire Safety Order rests with the ‘responsible person’ for the business, who is defined by the Fire Safety Order as either
- an employer if the workplace is ‘under his control’
- or, if not the employer then whoever has control of the business premises and the work carried out there – this could include the occupier, landlord or the owner.
What the law requires
One important requirements of the Fire Safety Order is that a fire safety assessment must be carried out and reviewed regularly.
You can learn about fire safety assessments and what is required on our Fire risk assessments page. From there you will be able to select your type of business and access the relevant government guidance, further information and advice.
The government also publish a useful short guide to making your premises safe from fire as well as providing a summary of fire safety in the workplace.
KFRS have a duty to enforce safety standards and endeavour to engage with and assist businesses in complying with their legal duties.
KFRS follow the Regulators code and where it is necessary to take action, we will take a series of steps including advice and informal action where appropriate to see if the matter can be resolved, before formal action is commenced. Learn more about these steps and our approach to enforcement.
Further guidance for specific types of premises
As well as the government guidance for fire safety assessments for your type of premises, you may also need to consider other requirements depending on your type of business. These may include:
- specialised housing, including sheltered housing – see the useful guide prepared by the National Fire Chiefs Council
- purpose built blocks of flats – see also information available on .Gov
- for multiple occupation and shared houses, and bedsits – you will find useful additional information available from the Local Authorities Coordinators of Regulatory Services (LACORS)
- the Housing Act
- the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 – a useful summary of these regulations is provided by the Health and Safety Executive
Primary Authority Scheme
If you own, manage or operate a business, charity or other organisation, you need to comply with fire safety laws. The main law is the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 which applies across England and Wales.
Since 6 April 2014 fire and rescue services in England and Wales have been able to enter into partnerships with businesses, charities or other organisations which operate across more than one local authority fire enforcement area - becoming their single point of contact for fire safety regulation advice.
The aim of the Primary Authority Partnership scheme is for fire and rescue services to develop effective partnerships with businesses that achieve a national consistency in delivering fire safety enforcement advice.
Key elements of Primary Authority schemes
- Providing reliable and consistent regulatory advice that the business requires in relation to fire safety.
- If a fire and rescue service has concerns about how a business, which has a Primary Authority partnership with a different fire and rescue service, is complying with fire safety regulations it will discuss the issue with the Primary Authority at an early stage.
- If a fire and rescue service believes that there is a statutory requirement for taking enforcement action it will notify the Primary Authority of the action it proposes to take. However, in some cases there will be a need for enforcement action to proceed immediately, for example where action is needed urgently to ensure the safety of employees or members of the public.
- Where actions of a business are potentially subject to enforcement action by a fire and rescue service, the business’s Primary Authority will advise the fire and rescue service on whether it has given the relevant fire safety advice to the business and whether the enforcement action being proposed is consistent with that advice.
- If there is disagreement over whether proposed enforcement action is consistent with the advice given by the Primary Authority the Regulatory Delivery Directorate is empowered to determine what, if any, action should be taken.
Who can enter into a Primary Authority Scheme?
The Primary Authority scheme is open to any business, charity or other organisation that is regulated by two or more fire and rescue services under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order, 2005.
Primary Authority partnerships can benefit businesses with premises in a number of local authority areas.
You can choose which fire and rescue service that you would like to enter into a Primary Authority Scheme with; it doesn’t have to be the one nearest to your head office or in the county where you have the greatest number of outlets.
Remember, a Primary Authority Scheme is a partnership arrangement so you should take time to ensure that the fire and rescue service that you choose to partner with is right for your business and can offer what you are hoping to get out of the scheme.
Primary Authority Scheme partners
It is with great pleasure KFRS announce that the University of Kent have recently been added to our partnership list. Other partners include Demelza Hospice Care for Children and Parkstone Ltd (trading as Hoopers Stores), in addition to our long-standing partnership with Shepherd Neame, all of which have been accepted by the Secretary of State to become partners within the Primary Authority Scheme.
University of Kent
The University of Kent was founded in 1965 and today is a leading academic and forward-thinking research institution with over 20,000 students and 4,000 staff. It is committed to the transformative power of education and research and to the development and support of its students and staff. Its partnership with Kent Fire and Rescue Service will include a portfolio of approximately 378 buildings and reflects the mutual benefits and synergies arising from a shared interest in fire safety.
Demelza Hospice Care for Children
Demelza is a charitable trust which runs two hospice facilities in Kent and South London providing a large range of care services to children, young people and their families. Funding is received from a portfolio of charity shops across Kent, East Sussex and South East London. The charity also run a Palliative Care Team who provide direct care in family homes providing respite care, on call services and crisis intervention services.
Hoopers have become the second business within a month to partner with Kent Fire and Rescue Service as part of the Better Regulation Delivery Office’s (BRDO) Primary Authority Scheme.
Parkstone Ltd, who trade as Hoopers Stores, is a small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) formed of four department stores located at Tunbridge Wells, Torquay, Wilmslow and Harrogate. They specialise in stocking designer fashion brands and beauty products as well as having homeware departments.
Shepherd Neame is Britain’s Oldest Brewer, based in Faversham, Kent, since 1698. It is a family business with strong family engagement and a balance of Neame family members and non-family members on the Board of Directors. Shepherd Neame prides itself on being an integrated regional brewer with an estate of good quality pubs and hotels across the south east of England including Kent, Medway, London, Essex, Surrey and Sussex.
Find out more
For more information on entering a Primary Authority partnership with Kent Fire and Rescue Service please contact the Primary Authority Scheme Manager at email@example.com
Find out about the companies and organisations that are members of the Primary Authority Scheme in Kent and Medway