Who is responsible for fire safety and are they taking it seriously?

Responsibilities around fire safety in buildings is very topical at the moment. The standard reference point here is the Regulatory Reform (fire safety) Order 2005 which clearly states that in all non-domestic premises, there needs to be a Responsible Person. This person is required to carry out fire safety duties, which includes general fire precautions and carrying out a fire risk assessment and keeping this up to date.

Fire door inspection Horbury

So, who is the Responsible Person in a business or other non-domestic premise?

The Responsible Person would be the employer, a building’s owner, landlord, occupier or anyone else with management duties or control over premises, such as a facilities manager.

The role of the Responsible Person needs to be taken seriously.  The fire risk assessment is a fundamental part of this, but what does it involve? 

Fire risk assessment involves identifying fire hazards and people at risk and removing or reducing the risk of those hazards from causing harm to as low as is reasonably practicable.    They also need to determine fire safety measurements and policies to ensure the safety of people in the event of a fire in the building.

These are both very important responsibilities.  But are they being taken seriously?

There have been calls for a national register of people responsible for fire assessments in buildings, due to continued safety concerns.  A survey carried out as part of Fire Door Safety Week found that 59% of tenants in multi-occupational buildings do not know who they should report fire safety concerns to.  The same survey found that just one third of tenants living in rented flat said they have been given information on the emergency fire plan for the building in which they live.  

Organisations including the British Woodworking Federation have argued that there needs to be much greater visibility of the responsible person, much in the same way that a first aider is required to be named on health and safety posters around a workplace or occupied building.  With a clearly named responsible person in a building, this would be a point of contact where people can take any issues or concerns about fire safety.  This means issues are much more likely to be addressed and any problems rectified, rather than simply being left to potentially cause a risk.  This can only be a good thing, encouraging people to become vigilant in their own building and to report any safety concerns. 

Under the Fire Safety Order, the Responsible Person has to ensure that an annual fire risk assessment is carried out and, in most cases, documented. The risk assessment has to demonstrate that adequate attention has been paid to all aspects of fire safety management, including active and passive fire measures, signage, means of escape and evacuation procedures. If the responsible person is lacking knowledge, then they have a duty to engage someone with the relevant expertise to be able to implement or advise on key areas. 

It’s here that Horbury Property Services can help by providing specialist inspection services for fire doors or fire compartmentation to ensure that a building is meeting requirements and remains compliant, in the interests of occupants and building owners.

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