Enforcement of fire safety legislation

If you own, manage or operate a business, charity or other organisation you must comply with fire safety legislation.


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The Business Fire Safety Team

We're responsible for the regulation and enforcement of fire safety legislation in non-domestic premises, and provide free advice to help local businesses comply.

Contact us for advice on any issues relating to fire safety including:

  • Fire risk assessment
  • Business continuity
  • Arson reduction
  • Maintenance and training

Contact the Business Fire Safety Team

What we can't help you with

Although we're able to give advice in the above fire safety areas, due to the regulatory role Surrey Fire and Rescue Service is responsible for – enforcing the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 – we're unable to complete these documents and procedures for you.

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The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 – and your responsibilities

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 is the biggest single reform of fire safety laws in over 30 years. It came into force on 1 October 2006, and consolidated existing fire safety laws which were scattered across more than 70 pieces of legislation.

It places the responsibility for fire safety on the employer or responsible person for a building or premises. Under the fire safety legislation, the responsible person for each premises must:

  • Carry out an assessment of the risks of fire
  • Take steps to reduce or remove the risk

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Does the order apply to my premises?

The order applies to nearly every type of building and structure.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government's guide to making your premises safe from fire provides simple and practical advice to people responsible for fire safety in small and medium sized businesses. It can be downloaded in English, Welsh, Chinese, Turkish, Urdu and Gujarati.

Advice for a range of building types

Additional guidance

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What are the main rules under the order?

As the responsible person, you must:

  • Ensure that a fire risk assessment, identifying the dangers and risks from fire within your premises, is carried out.
  • You may pass the role of completing the assessment to a suitably competent person within your employment or to a third party fire risk assessment provider
  • Consider who may be at risk
  • Get rid of or reduce the risk from fire as far as is reasonably practicable and provide general fire precautions to deal with any possible risk left
  • Take other measures to make sure there is protection if flammable or explosive materials are produced, used or stored
  • Create a plan to deal with any emergency and, in most cases, keep a record of your findings

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Fire risk assessments

Your fire risk assessment should be completed by a competent person who should:

  • Understand the relevant fire safety legislation and the associated guidance documents
  • Have appropriate education, training, knowledge and experience in the principles of fire safety
    • The Hendeca Group, a trading arm of Surrey County Council, is one of a number of companies that can offer this training. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of Surrey County Council that provide a range of high quality commercial services in consultancy, resilience, training and data storage
  • Have an understanding of fire development and the behaviour of people in fire; understand the fire hazards, fire risks and relevant factors associated with occupants at special risk within buildings of the type in question
  • Have appropriate training such as that provided by SEBS or other training providers and/or experience in carrying out fire risk assessments

The competent person

There is no defined skillset or training designated for the "competent person", however, they must show a competency in all areas equal to (or greater than) the complexity of problems to be tackled.

The competent person must display an ability to identify a problem when seen and suitably asses its relative importance in relation to the safety systems in place.

Reviews

It is also important to review fire risk assessments on a regular basis (recommended to be at least once a year), when there is reason to suspect that it may no longer be valid, or there has been a significant change to the matters to which it relates.

Where, as a result of any such review, the provisions of the fire risk assessment are shown to be inadequate, the findings must be acted upon and the responsible person concerned should make a time-specific corrective action plan to mitigate the risks and communicate the findings (the measures you put in place to mitigate the identified risks) to employees.

Appropriate training should also be carried out to ensure your employees know and understand their responsibilities in supporting your control measures.

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Enforcing the policy

Surrey Fire and Rescue Service's enforcement policy (PDF) outlines the action our inspectors take against premises that fail to meet standards. It ensures that inspectors act in an equitable, practical and consistent manner.

What inspectors will take into account

  • How serious the offence is
  • The past history of the offender
  • The confidence in management and how willing the offender is to cooperate
  • The consequences of non-compliance
  • How effective the enforcement actions could be
  • Duties that are mandatory or discretionary

In most cases, action taken by inspectors will be informal and will be one or more of the following:

  • Verbal advice
  • A letter with recommendations
  • A letter listing works which must be carried out in order to comply with the legislation, and other recommendations

When a statutory notice is served

  • A serious breach of legislation is noted during an inspection
  • There is a risk to safety
  • Breaches of legislation exist and the history of the premises suggests that the work will not be completed without the need for formal action

Failure to comply

Failure to comply with a statutory notice will usually result in prosecution.

People and businesses that receive notices will always be informed in writing of their rights to appeal and these will normally be on the back of the notice. They will also be informed in writing of the consequences of non-compliance.

The decision to prosecute for an infringement will be based on The Code for Crown Prosecutors.

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Who will carry out enforcement duties?

Only inspectors carrying identification (ID) and authorisation cards, authorised by the Chief Fire Officer, may inspect your property and carry out enforcement duties.

The Chief Fire Officer will only allow inspectors to work in different areas of the law when he is happy with their level of qualification, training and experience.

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What can you do if you think you've not been treated fairly?

If you do not agree that action required by an inspector is necessary, or you wish to carry out different remedial work, you can discuss the matter informally with either the inspector, their manager or another Officer within the fire safety department.

Alternatively, you can submit a complaint that will be investigated.

If the problem is still not resolved, you should follow the Fire Authority's formal complaints procedure. This is without prejudice to any formal appeal process.


Files available to download