Responsibility for fire safety

If you own, manage or operate a business, charity or other organisation you must comply with fire safety legislation called the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety Order) 2005 (FSO).

The FSO applies to nearly all types of premises excluding:

  • Single domestic premises
  • Offshore installations, ships (in respect of normal ship-board activities)
  • Fields, woods or other land forming part of an agricultural undertaking situated away from the main building
  • Aircraft, locomotive or rolling stock, trailer or semi-trailer used as a means of transport
  • Mines
  • Borehole sites

In the cases above, exemption from the FSO is because there is superior legislation or regulation that applies, or application would be impractical.

Who has responsibility for Fire Safety?

The person who has the overall duty for complying with the FSO is known as the Responsible Person (RP). In the workplace this would mean the employer. If not a workplace, the RP could be the owner of the premises, for example the landlord, or the person who has control of the premises such as a management company.

It's important to note that:

  • Every person who has, to any extent, control of the premises


  • Any person who has a contract or obligation of any extent in relation to the maintenance, repair or safety of a premises ...

... is also treated as the RP so far as matters within their control, or to the extent that their contract or obligation extends.

An example of this is to think of a shop that is part of a retail chain. The business (employer) is the overall RP, however the branch manager has control of the shop so is also treated as the RP.

Similarly, the contractors that service the shops fire alarm have an obligation in relation to the safety of the shop, and therefore could also be considered the RP.

What are the responsibilities for Fire Safety?

As the Responsible Person you must:

  • Take general fire precautions to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the safety of employees and anyone who may be legally on or within the vicinity of the premises
  • Carry out a Fire Risk Assessment (FRA) to identify fire hazards, those at risk, and the general fire precautions required
  • Tell staff or their representatives about the risks you've identified
  • Put in place and maintain appropriate fire safety measures as identified by your FRA
  • Put a plan in place on what to do in the event of a fire and make people aware of it
  • Provide staff with information, fire safety instruction and training
  • Review your FRA regularly, particularly if you believe there have been significant changes made, or it is no longer valid.

More information can be found on the Fire safety for businesses and organisations webpage

Business Fire Safety awareness tool

This interactive tool has been developed to help small business owners understand their legal duties for fire safety in the workplace.

Take part in an interactive walkthrough to understand your legal duties for fire safety in the workplace.

Business Fire Safety awareness tool (on the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) website)

This Fire Safety Awareness Tool was developed in collaboration between NFCC, Eyecademy and 925 Studios at Northampton University, with funding provided by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Regulators Pioneer Fund.

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