Are you aware of your responsibilities within fire safety for your company?
Are you aware of your responsibilities within fire safety for your company? If you are the owner or occupier of a non-domestic building you have legal obligations to uphold to protect your staff, visitors, its contents and the building itself.
These legal obligations across the UK require the appointed responsible person (duty holder in Scotland) for non-domestic premises to have adequate fire protection. It is their responsibility to ensure there is a sufficient, 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 also actions needed. 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 provide 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 is 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.
BAFE is the independent, not for profit, third party certification registration body for quality in the UK fire protection industry. BAFE provides end users, such as appointed responsible persons and property managers, with an easy method of finding third party certified fire protection companies.
By using BAFE approved companies for your fire provisions you can be sure you have acted with due diligence to help meet your obligations with UK fire legislation.
All BAFE companies are Third Party Certified by UKAS accredited Certification Bodies using schemes developed by BAFE to support quality standards. Many public authorities and commercial organisations now insist that their fire protection services are carried out by a company that has been Third Party Certified and is BAFE approved.
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and the equivalent legislation in Scotland and Northern Ireland, places specific duties on the responsible person and DCLG states in its guidance documents (section 8):
“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.”
To make sure you have completed your fire risk assessment, which is a vital part of meeting your obligations and to highlight actions needed to create a safe work environment, you can use a BAFE Life Safety Fire Risk Assessment (SP205) certified and approved company.
For other requirements listed in legislation you can use BAFE approved companies also. 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.' BAFE runs schemes to become certified in these areas and by using these companies you can be sure you have appropriately put in place correct provisions to protect yourself and others from fire.
If you are looking for the supply and maintenance of portable extinguishers, search for a company registered to the BAFE Competency of Portable Fire Extinguisher Organisations and Technicians (SP101) scheme. All of these companies are certified to ISO9001 and their technicians are assessed by BAFE for initial and ongoing competence.
For your fire detectors and alarm system, companies should hold BAFE Fire Detection and Alarm Systems (SP203-1) scheme approval. This scheme includes the design, installation, commissioning and maintenance of fire detection systems and also requires that all equipment used is third party certificated. Registration to this BAFE scheme is often a key requirement criteria in tenders for the provision of fire alarms.
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.’
BAFE developed a scheme regarding emergency lighting to ensure these systems are correctly worked on by competent companies. If you are looking for a company to work on your emergency lighting system look for one registered to the BAFE Emergency Lighting Systems (SP203-4) scheme.
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 have to be confident it will work at any time, immediately and that it meets the needs of your premises.
All of 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 people for the task required.
Search here to find third party certificated competent companies near you - Always specify what areas of fire protection you require and verify that they are certified in those areas.