Fire Safety Legislation, The Law and Your Commercial Fire Alarm System

Commercial Fire Alarm Systems are essential when it comes to safeguarding the lives of a business’ workforce. Obviously this is the primary and most important reason for having a fire alarm system installed, but doing so will also enable a business to preserve their stock, property and assets.

Strict regulations set out by the government are in place regarding the installation and use of such systems and can leave many people asking the question ‘do I need a fire alarm systems installed at my premises?’ This article attempts to highlight the key elements relating to government fire legislation.

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 was implemented as law in October 2005 and applies to all non-domestic properties, replacing all previous legislation. The key features include:

  • Fire certificates to be replaced with risk assessments for non-domestic premises
  • Fresh emphasis placed on the prevention and containing of small fires
  • All businesses are obliged to nominate a ‘responsible person’ who will carry out regular risk assessment

The appointed responsible person must take charge for fire protection within the premises and also must take full liability. An example of the responsible person could be.

  • An employer
  • A manager or managing agent for the building
  • The owner of the business premises
  • Contractors with a certain degree of control over a premises
  • Someone providing accommodation for paying guests

A key duty of the responsible person is to carry out regular fire risk assessments, and identify any potential fire hazards in order to protect any members of staff or persons visiting the business premises, the surrounding environment within the building and also the safety or fire fighters should the worst to happen.

It is also the duty of the responsible person to document the fire risk assessment if the business has 5 or more members of staff, and to work out how to stop a potential fire from occurring. The fire risk assessment needs to highlight all the methods in place which are suitable for detecting a fire and raising the alarm, as well as identifying emergency exits and suitable fire protection equipment such as fire extinguishers and blankets.

Fire alarm maintenance is also a key component of the risk assessment, and regular checks of the fire alarm system need to be arranged by the responsible person. Maintenance for fire alarm systems can be arranged with contracts via a reputable fire alarm company. Approved and competent fire alarm companies must also be used to supply and install the alarm system, and the validity of any company can be check out on demand.

In summary, the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 states that: “The order applies to virtually all premises and covers nearly every type of building, structure and open space. Under the order, anyone who has control of premises or anyone who has a degree of control over certain areas or systems may be a ‘responsible person’. If you are the responsible person, you must make sure you carry out a fire-risk assessment although you can pass this task to some other competent person. However, you will still be responsible, in law, for meeting the order. The order says that you must manage any fire-risk in your premises. Fire authorities no longer issue fire certificates and those previously in force will have no legal status.”

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