Frequently Asked Questions

What is the new fire safety legislation?

Fire Safety regulations changed on the 1st of October 2006 and was taken over by the Regulatory Reform Order (Fire Safety) 2004.

This new Order has streamlined and refined the way fire legislation works, in essence the new Order will require that ALL premises or sites which employees or the public have access to, will have been subject to a fire risk assessment being carried out.

Fire certification will no longer have effect as the risk assessment will take its place, an emphasis on regular and appropriate safety training is highlighted and the penalties for non compliance, which in the worst case, could result in large fines and cessation of trading.

The order splits businesses into two main groups: less than 4 employees and more than 4 employees (this number includes owners and directors).

If you have 4 or less at your place of work you still must comply with all provisions of this order but you are not required to have documented evidence of your risk assessment.

If you have 5 or more employees then you must not only comply with all the provisions of the order but also have documented evidence of your risk assessment to prove your compliance.

The order holds the person with overall responsibility for the premises 100% responsible for fire safety and calls them the “responsible person”. The responsible person is liable for heavy fines and even imprisonment if found to be guilty of contravening the order.

The responsible person may nominate someone else to carry out the companies fire safety, they would be called the “competent person” this should be an employee if they are suitably qualified but may be an external company if no one is suitably qualified.

As a responsible person what do I have to do?

You must take all measures that are reasonably practicable for the safety of all your employees. You must also ensure the safety of any person not an employee whilst they are on your premises.
The responsible person has a duty take “General Fire Precautions”, there are six main categories for this meaning and they must comply with all of them, they are:

1. Reduce the risk of fires on the premises and the risk of fire spreading.
2. Have means of escape from the premises
3. Ensure at all times escape routes and exits can be used
4. Have the correct firefighting equipment
5. Have a means for detecting and raising the fire alarm
6. Actions to be taken in the event of a fire including training of staff and measures to reduce the effects of fire

You also need to take into account any special requirements your individual business has and have measures in place to reduce there risk of contributing to a fire, such as the use of plant machinery and the storage of dangerous materials.

The fire risk assessment is the not only a necessity but carried out correctly will ensure your business meets all the criteria of the order. You can download the government fire safety guides from their website:

These documents contain all the instructions necessary to carry out an excellent fire safety risk assessment.

Is anyone exempt form the new fire safety regulations?

Yes, A few people are exempt from this order, although it doesn’t mean they do not have to have good fire safety, they come under different regulations. The chosen few are:

This order does not apply to:
1. domestic premises
2. an offshore installation
3. a ship
4. fields, woods or other land forming part of an agricultural of forestry undertaking
5. anything with wheels
6. a borehole site

How Often Should Staff Members Attend Fire Safety Training Courses?

Government guidance says that fire training frequency is based on the findings of the premises fire risk assessment.

Fire training should be carried out during induction and subsequent refresher sessions at pre-determined intervals.

If your business (such as care homes) has a high turnover of staff, we recommend fire training every 6 months.

Fire deaths and the cost of fire

The latest available figures (2010-11) show that in Britain the Fire and Rescue Service attended a total of 287,000 fires which resulted in 388 fire-related deaths, the majority of which (306) occurred in dwelling fires[1]. Although in recent years there has been a downward trend in the number of fire deaths, this trend has now hit a plateau and new measures are needed to further decrease fire deaths.

Evidence shows that certain population groups are more at risk from domestic fires. Research carried out by the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has identified the groups who are more at risk of fire than the general population[2]. According to this research, the vulnerable groups tend to be towards the lower income end and deprived demographic groups, specifically:

  • single, middle-aged people, who drink and smoke at home (aged 40-59 with a male bias)
  • female single parents
  • the very elderly (with a slight female bias)
  • people with disabilities and especially those who are mobility impaired
  • young people (16-24) – including students who are living communally, ie sharing living rooms, bathrooms and kitchens.

In 2004, the total economic cost of fire in the UK was estimated at £7.03 billion, equivalent to approximately 0.78 per cent of the gross value added of the economy[3]. Of the £7.03 billion, £2.5 billion can be attributed to the consequential costs of fire such as property damage, lost business and the loss to the economy from injuries and deaths. In 2008, the cost of fire was estimated at £8.3 billion, which includes both deliberate and accidental fire[4].

Fires in the UK are estimated to release over two million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year – this is excluding further emissions resulting from constructing replacement buildings and in recycling the fire damaged materials. In the UK there have been no reported deaths from fire in a domestic dwelling installed with a sprinkler system.

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What’s not covered by insurance after a fire?

There is a perception that the majority of the cost of a fire is insurable, however there are a number of areas which are not covered by insurance. Financial surveys undertaken on behalf of the insurance companies identify clearly the cost of fires to the British economy but these statistics only show insured costs, there are many costs which simply are not insurable.

For every pound spent on insurances the average none recoverable costs were about 10 times that amount paid and some up to 36 times. The cost of insurance premiums can be compared to the tip of an iceberg with the majority of the costs under the waterline. Some of the uninsured costs are:

Product and material damage
Plant and building damage
Tool and equipment damage
Legal costs
Expenditure on emergency
Clearing site
Production delays
Overtime working and
Temporary labour
Investigation time
Supervisors’ time diverted
Clerical effort
Loss of expertise/experience