The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (often referred to as the FSO) is an order made under the Regulatory Reform Act 2001 and combines all previous fire safety law into a single piece of legislation. Fire certificates are no longer provided and those previously issued have no legal status.
The FSO requires any person who exercises some level of control for premises (the ‘responsible person’) to take reasonable steps to reduce the risk from fire and ensure that people can escape safely if a fire does occur.
The FSO requires the responsible person to make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks to which relevant persons are exposed, for the purpose of identifying the general fire precautions needed.
Where does the FSO apply?
The FSO applies to virtually all premises in England and Wales and covers nearly every type of building, structure and open space, but it excludes single private domestic dwellings. It does include areas used in common in blocks of flats and other multi-occupied dwellings.
The law applies to any:
- vehicle, vessel, aircraft or hovercraft
- installation on land (including the foreshore and other land intermittently covered by water)
- tent or movable structure
Am I affected by the Fire Safety Order?
Yes, if you are:
- responsible for business premises
- an employer or self-employed with business premises
- responsible for a part of a dwelling where that part is used solely for business purposes
- a charity or voluntary organisation
- a contractor with a degree of control over any premises
- providing accommodation for paying guests
Are there any places where the FSO does not apply?
There are certain limited exemptions where the Fire Safety Order does not apply:
- domestic premises
- an offshore installation within the meaning of regulation 3 of the Offshore Installation and Pipeline Works (Management and Administration) Regulations 1995
- a ship, in respect of the normal ship-board activities of a ship’s crew which are carried out solely by the crew under the direction of the master
- fields, woods or other land forming part of an agricultural or forestry undertaking but which is not inside a building and is situated away from the undertaking’s main building
- an aircraft, locomotive or rolling stock, trailer or semi-trailer used as a means of transport or a vehicle for which a licence is in force under the Vehicle Excise and Registration Act 1994 or a vehicle exempted from duty under that Act
- a mine within the meaning of section 180 of the Mines and Quarries Act 1954, other than any building on the surface at a mine
- a borehole site to which the Borehole Sites and Operations Regulations 1995 apply
Do I need a fire risk assessment?
The FSO requires the responsible person to carry out a fire safety risk assessment and implement and maintain a fire management plan. You may decide to employ a qualified fire safety specialist to help you with this, although applying the guidance with common sense is often sufficient in small or medium lower risk premises.
A fire risk assessment should be completed for all premises; however, the FSO requires the significant findings to be recorded when five or more people are employed or if a licence is in force.
Who is the ‘responsible person’?
The FSO defines the responsible person as “the person who is ultimately responsible for ensuring the fire safety measures are completed.” This will usually be the employer (if the workplace is to any extent under his control), the owner, or any other person who has control of the premises.
The responsible person must also appoint one or more competent persons, depending on the size and use of the premises, to assist in carrying out their fire safety duties to protect relevant persons.
Who are competent and relevant persons?
A ‘competent person’ is someone with enough training and experience or knowledge and other qualities to enable them to properly assist in undertaking the preventative and protective measures required.
A ‘relevant person’ is anyone lawfully on the premises, or any person in the vicinity, who may be affected by fire on or from the premises.
What are the main requirements of the Order?
The FSO requires the responsible person to:
- Carry out or nominate someone to carry out a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment;
- Consider who may be especially at risk;
- Eliminate or reduce the risk from fire as is reasonably practical and provide general fire precautions to deal with any residual risk;
- Take additional measures to ensure fire safety where flammable or explosive materials are stored or used;
- Create a plan to deal with any emergency, and document the findings; and
- Review the findings as necessary.
Who enforces the FSO?
The FSO is enforced in Dorset and Wiltshire by Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Authority.
Where can I get more help?
Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service is unable to complete a fire risk assessment for you. However, we will provide general advice to help you comply with the law and offer more focused advice if you have a specific problem to overcome.
Information contained on this website may answer your questions or at least point you to further information or guidance that can. If you are still unsure, please contact us.
The Government has produced a series of fire safety guides that may be purchased or downloaded free of charge from the Gov.UK website. These guides detail the steps required to complete a fire risk assessment, and include additional information and advice on the law and what you must do to comply.