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
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)*.
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
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.