Fire Safety Guidance
  • What do I need to do to comply with fire safety legislation?

    Are you aware of your responsibilities within fire safety for your building? If you are the owner or occupier of a commercial/non-domestic building you have legal obligations to uphold to protect your staff, visitors, its contents and the building itself (also not forgetting yourself). The tragic events of the Grenfell Tower and other major fires have highlighted the need for competence in the provision of services throughout the life of a building and the responses the Hackitt review have all built on this absolute need.

    These legal obligations across the UK require the appointed Responsible Person (or Duty Holder in Scotland) for non-domestic premises to have adequate fire protection. It is their responsibility to ensure there is a suitable, up to date fire risk assessment and that all requirements addressed in this are carried out competently.

    This Responsible Person if not appointed becomes the employer/the person who controls the premises by default in the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (RRO 2005). If you are unsure on who controls your premises this needs to be addressed to ensure you are not under any risk from fire and to establish who holds responsibility.

    “Duty to take general fire precautions

    8.—(1) The responsible person must

    (a) take such general fire precautions as will ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the safety of any of his employees; and

    (b) in relation to relevant persons who are not his employees, take such general fire precautions as may reasonably be required in the circumstances of the case to ensure that the premises are safe.”

    - The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, Part 2 – Article 8

    Where do I begin with my fire safety policy? - Fire Risk Assessment

    As listed in Article 9, ‘The responsible person must make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks to which relevant persons are exposed for the purpose of identifying the general fire precautions he needs to take to comply with the requirements and prohibitions imposed on him by or under this Order.’

    This fire risk assessment will recognise precautions already in place and any actions required. These findings must be recorded and kept (if you employ 5 or more people) and must be regularly reviewed. This must also be revisited if the building/rooms change use to ensure provisions in place for fire safety are still appropriate.

    Within current legislation, anybody can provide a fire risk assessment and you are permitted to carry out your own company assessment if you feel confident you can fulfil this. However, you can only identify risks you are aware of and how can you be sure you have provided an appropriate assessment according to the law? If the assessment and your fire safety provisions are thought to have been carried out to an insufficient extent, the responsible person can face an unlimited fine or up to two years in prison (for major penalties)*.

    Sourcing Competent Providers

    Specifying Third Party Certification for the specific services of fire safety you require demonstrates due diligence that you have sourced competent providers for the tasks required.

    The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and the equivalent legislation in Scotland and Northern Ireland, places specific duties on the responsible person and the Government states in its fire safety guidance documents:

    “Third-party certification schemes for fire protection products and related services are an effective means of providing the fullest possible assurances, offering a level of quality, reliability and safety that non-certificated products may lack.”

    - Fire safety risk assessment - Section 8, Quality assurance of fire protection equipment and installation

    BAFE exists to help the Responsible Person/Duty Holder

    The BAFE Fire Safety Register is the independent register of quality fire safety service providers.

    These providers are Third Party Certificated in one or more specific areas of fire safety ensuring quality and competence to help meet your obligations.

    All BAFE Registered Companies are Third Party Certificated by UKAS accredited Certification Bodies using schemes developed by BAFE that support quality standards. Many public authorities and commercial organizations now insist that their fire protection and safety services are carried out by a company that has been Third Party Certificated and is BAFE Registered.

    Meeting your fire safety obligations

    For other requirements listed in fire safety legislation you can use Third Party Certificated, BAFE Registered fire safety service providers. BAFE operates schemes to become Third Party Certificated in these areas and by using these providers you can be sure you have appropriately put in place competent actions to protect your building from fire.

    See below for the different areas BAFE Registered Companies can help meet your obligations and create a safe working environment:

    Fire Extinguishers, Fire Detection and Fire Alarms

    In Article 13 the RRO 2005 states that ‘the premises are, to the extent that it is appropriate, equipped with appropriate fire-fighting equipment and with fire detectors and alarms.'

    If you are looking for the supply and maintenance of portable extinguishers (including sourcing, commissioning and siting), search for a company registered to the BAFE Competency of Portable Fire Extinguisher Organizations and Technicians (SP101) scheme. All these BAFE Registered Companies are Third Party Certified for this service and their fire extinguisher technicians are assessed regularly by BAFE to demonstrate ongoing competence.

    For your fire detectors and alarm system, look for companies Third Party Certified to the BAFE Fire Detection and Alarm Systems (SP203-1) scheme** (or the BAFE SP201 scheme***). This scheme covers four service areas of these systems: design, installation, commissioning and maintenance. Registration to this BAFE scheme is often key requirement criteria in tenders for the provision of fire alarm services.

    Emergency Routes and Exits

    Article 14 of the RRO 2005 discusses emergency exits. ‘Emergency routes and exits requiring illumination must be provided with emergency lighting of adequate intensity in the case of failure of their normal lighting.’

    For your emergency lighting system, look for companies Third Party Certified to the BAFE Emergency Lighting Systems (SP203-4) scheme**. This scheme covers four service areas of these systems: design, installation, commissioning and maintenance.


    Just as important as getting these systems for your fire safety policy in place is to ensure they ‘are subject to a suitable system of maintenance and are maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair’ (Article 17). Implemented fire protection systems are not switched on and off every day like security detection, but you must be confident it will work at any time, immediately in the event of an emergency and that it meets the needs of your premises.

    All the BAFE schemes will cover maintenance from fire extinguishers to emergency lighting, fire detection/alarms and fixed gaseous fire suppression systems. Maintenance of these systems should also be addressed in your fire risk assessment as this is an ongoing document that should be reviewed regularly. By using BAFE Registered Companies you can be assured you are using Third Party Certified, competent providers for the task required.

    Further Information

    Your local FRS will have more business safety information on their website or can be made available via their business safety teams.

    External Links - BAFE is not responsible for any external content.


    **Please note: organizations registered to BAFE SP203 schemes may not be Third Party Certificated in all four service areas/modules (design, installation, commissioning and/or maintenance). You will be able to see what services they are able to provide on their organization information within the results on the BAFE Fire Safety Register search feature.

    ***The BAFE SP201 scheme acknowledges providers who hold LPS 1014 Fire Detection and Alarm Systems Third Party Certification.

    Every effort is made to ensure that the information provided is accurate and up to date.

    No legal responsibility is accepted for any errors or omissions.

  • How often should I be reviewing my fire risk assessment?

    Fire risk assessments should be regularly reviewed to ensure they are being followed to mitigate or remove any risk from fire. Fire Risk Assessments should especially be reviewed in the event of any changes to how the building is used (e.g. office restructuring/changes to storage of equipment etc) as this may need additional action to protect occupants.

    The interval for a professional review will be advised by your chosen Third Party Certificated fire risk assessor. This action is noted in the BAFE SP205 Scheme Document (V5 - Annex D) as part of a comprehensive fire risk assessment.

  • How often should I be servicing my fire extinguishers?

    The British Standard for fire extinguishers, BS 5306-3 (Clause 6 - Table 1), states the maintenance intervals for each type of fire extinguisher.

    Type of extinguisher Basic service Extended service Overhaul
    Water-based 12-monthly [every year]

    Every 5 years


    Powder 12-monthly [every year]

    Every 5 years


    Powder-primary sealed 12-monthly [every year]

    Every 10 years


    Clean agent 12-monthly [every year] - Every 10 years
    Halon 12-monthly [every year] - Every 10 years
    CO2 12-monthly [every year] - Every 10 years

    “It is the duty of the responsible person to ensure that extinguishers are maintained regularly by a competent person. Portable fire extinguishers are regarded as “life safety equipment” and a planned system of maintenance is intended to ensure that the equipment is:

    • in an efficient working state (safe);
    • in working order (reliable);
    • in good repair (efficient);
    • suitable for the hazard (fit for purpose).”

    - BS 5306-3 (6 Maintenance intervals - Commentary on Clause 6)

    BS 5306-3 also states that “visual inspections should be carried out [by the Responsible Person] at least once a month. When circumstances require, inspections should be carried out more frequently.” - Clause 11.2 Instructions for visual inspection.

    Your fire extinguisher service provider will be able to advise further using BS 5306-3 for reference.

    All BAFE SP101 Registered Companies and employed fire extinguisher technicians follow set criteria which observes best practice as laid out in British Standard BS 5306 parts 3, 8 and 9.

    Every effort is made to ensure that the information provided is accurate and up to date.

    No legal responsibility is accepted for any errors or omissions.

  • How often should I be servicing my fire detection and fire alarm system?

    For fire detection and alarm systems it is recommended a service by a competent provider is carried out every 6 months to comply with BS 5839-1 (the British Standard for fire detection and fire alarm systems for buildings in non-domestic premises). BS 5839-1 outlines multiple recommendations for inspecting and testing these systems that all BAFE SP203-1 Registered Organisations will be following.

    “The recommendations in this clause should be carried out by a competent person (see 3.12). The period between successive inspection and servicing visits should not exceed six months. If this recommendation is not implemented, it should be considered that the system is no longer compliant with this part of BS 5839.  - BS 5839-1 Clause 45.3 (Recommendations for periodic inspection and test of the system).

    The British Standard (BS 5839-1) states “It is essential that the system is subject to periodic inspection and servicing so that faults are identified, preventive measures can be taken to ensure the continued reliability of the system, false alarm problems are identified and suitably addressed, and the user is made aware of any changes to the building that affect the protection afforded by the system.” - BS 5839-1 Clause 45.1 (Commentary – Inspection and servicing).

    Please note

    There are also additional recommendations in BS 5839-1 for routine testing and inspection of the system. These can be found in Section 6 (Maintenance) of the British Standard. Your chosen BAFE SP203-1 Registered Organisation can advise further on these for you.

    Further information from BS 5839-1 regarding inspection and servicing

    “Periodic inspection and servicing needs to be carried out by a competent person with specialist knowledge of fire detection and fire alarm systems, including knowledge of the causes of false alarms, sufficient information regarding the system, and adequate access to spares.

    This is normally an outside fire alarm servicing organization; care needs to be taken to ensure that, if, for example, in-house employees are used for this task, they have equivalent competence to the technicians of a typical fire alarm servicing organization. Competence of a fire alarm servicing organization can be assured by the use of organizations that are third-party certificated, by a UKAS-accredited certification body [such as a BAFE SP203-1 Registered Organisation], to carry out inspection and servicing of fire alarm systems.” - BS 5839-1 Clause 45.1 (Commentary – Inspection and servicing).

    Every effort is made to ensure that the information provided is accurate and up to date.

    No legal responsibility is accepted for any errors or omissions.