What is the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005?

Sometimes called the Fire Safety Order (FSO) or otherwise known as the RRO, the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 came into force in 2006.

It was brought in to consolidate existing fire safety laws for England and Wales* which were scattered across more than 70 pieces of legislation, and reduce the number of enforcing authorities responsible for dealing with general fire safety.

*Scotland is covered under the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005 and Fire Safety (Scotland) Regulations 2006

What is its purpose?

The simplified message of the FSO is that any person, who has some level of control of premises, must take reasonable steps to reduce the risk from fire and ensure that everyone who may be on the premises, at the time of the fire, can escape safely.

Who does it apply to?

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

  • offices and shops
  • care providers (including care homes and hospitals)
  • community halls, places of worship and other community premises
  • the shared areas of properties that several households live in (housing laws may also apply)
  • pubs, clubs and restaurants
  • schools and sports centres
  • tents and marquees
  • hotels and hostels
  • factories and warehouses

Charity organisations also come under the FSO and any contractors with temporary control over a building or structure is also responsible for fire safety.

How does it apply?

Under the FSO, if you have control of the premises ie. business owner, employer, landlord, or individual who maintains control of the property, you are the ‘Responsible Person’ and are ultimately accountable for the fire safety of that premises and the individuals within it.

The order states that the ‘Responsible Person’ should take steps to reduce fire risk and as far as is reasonably practical make sure that everyone on the premises, or nearby, can safely evacuate the building, in the event of a fire.

As the responsible person, you must appoint one or more ‘Competent Persons’ to assist in undertaking the preventive and protective measures.

You must ensure that a thorough Fire Risk Assessment is carried out at regular intervals by a Competent Person to:

  • Identify fire hazards
  • Identify the relevant people who may be at risk
  • Eliminate and reduce risk from fire as far as is reasonably possible and provide general fire precautions to deal with any possible risk left
  • Provide fire precautions to deal with the identified risks
  • Take precautions if there are flammable materials on the premises
  • Create a plan to deal with any emergency

Risk Assessments and the actions taken as a result should be kept as a record and provided at any inspections. If five or more people are employed, the responsible person is required to provide “prescribed information” to those relevant people. Prescribed information includes making them aware of the risk assessment and the subsequent actions taken or to be taken e.g. fire safety training and the emergency plan.

The Risk Assessment should be reviewed, and necessary amendments made if there are significant changes to the property. Significant changes include but are not limited to; construction, how the premises are being used and/or a large increase in number of people visiting or working in the vicinity.

How do I find a Competent Fire Risk Assessor?

Marlowe Fire & Security can provide a comprehensive Fire Risk Assessment solution designed to identify and reduce your risk of fire. Our highly qualified and experienced Fire Risk Assessors are experienced in identifying and addressing the needs of all users of your premises and providing advice about how you can comply with all relevant legislation.

As an assurance to you Marlowe Fire & Security is a BAFE Life Safety Fire Risk Assessment SP205 registered company. This Scheme ensures that we have the required technical and quality management capabilities and qualified Assessors to provide a compliant Fire Risk Assessment solution.

Who enforces the order?

The Order has been rigorously enforced since 2006, with large fines and potential imprisonment imposed on the Responsible Persons for significant breaches.

Fire authorities will be the main agency responsible for enforcing all fire-safety legislation in non-domestic premises. They will target their resources and inspections at those premises that present the highest risk.

All fire authorities will continue to look into complaints about fire safety, carry out investigations after fires where poor fire-safety management is discovered and may carry out targeted inspections.

If you do not meet the order, the fire authority will provide practical advice or, if the risk is serious, a formal notice.

Are Fire Certificates still valid?

Under the FSO, the Fire Precautions Act 1971, which required premises to have a fire certificate, was repealed. This means fire certificates are no longer issued or valid and you should follow the steps provided by the FSO, to prepare a Fire Risk Assessment and emergency plan.

Where can I get more information?

To support the Order, the The Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLC) have published a number of Guidance Documents to assist you in meeting your responsibilities. They will give advice on most types of premises where the duty to undertake a fire safety risk assessment under the Order applies.

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 – A short guide to making your premises safe from fire will give an overview and the following eleven guides will address the following categories of premises.