Having the right fire safety measures in place in your office is vital. If you are responsible for a business or commercial premises, you have a legal duty to ensure your building or workplace is safe for the people using it.
By law, you must carry out regular fire risk assessments and ensure your premise has adequate fire safety measures and equipment in place, such as fire alarms and extinguishers.
At Sovereign Fire and Security, we created this simple guide to help people responsible for office fire safety better understand what they need to do for their office in order to be legally compliant with UK fire safety regulations and the RRO.
What are the Current UK Fire Safety Regulations?
You are responsible for fire safety for an office if you are an employer, the owner, the landlord, an occupier or anyone else with control of the premises. In order to maintain a legally obliging office space, it is essential that the responsible person(s):
- Carry out a fire risk assessment of the premises and review it regularly
- Tell staff or their representatives about the risks you’ve identified
- Put in place, and maintain, appropriate fire safety measures
- Plan for an emergency
- Provide staff information, fire safety instruction and training
Take a closer look at the ways in which you can make your premises safe from fire here. >
In England and Wales, the requirements for fire safety are covered by the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. In Scotland, they are covered in Part 3 of the Fire (Scotland Act) 2005 and in Northern Ireland they are covered in Part 3 of The Fire and Rescue Services (Northern Ireland) Order 2006 and The Fire Safety Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2010.
What is a Fire Risk Assessment?
A fire risk assessment generally follows these key stages:
1) Identify fire risks, including:
– Sources of ignition, which could start a fire. These include heaters, lighting, any naked flames and electrical equipment, as well as any other items that get very hot or cause sparks
– Sources of fuel, which burn easily. These include paper, rubbish, plastic, wood, rubber and foam. Furniture should also be included.
– Also think about any sources of oxygen, including air.
2) Identify the people at risk.
3) Evaluate the risks.
4) Remove the risks or identify solutions to reduce the risk and improve safety, such as installing or improving fire alarm systems, fire extinguishers and other fire safety equipment, or improving training.
5) Create an emergency plan and provide any training required to the people using the building.
6) Review and update your fire risk assessment regularly.
Read the HSE’s advice on completing fire risk assessments.
Fire Safety Training in the Workplace
A fire drill should be completed at least once per year to make sure that your members of staff are aware of the fire safety procedures, and your fire assembly point. This is especially important for companies with a high staff turnover, and in some cases, we would suggest ensuring a fire drill is carried out every 6 months.
Another option is to provide fire safety training for a few members of staff, so that they can become in-house officers and guide the team to safety. This will often involve a 1–2-day course in order to receive their certificate.
It is also important to ensure an external company is hired to check your fire alarms and fire protection equipment. For large offices, alarm tests should be conducted much more frequently, either weekly or bi-weekly.
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What Fire Safety Equipment Does my Business Need?
Your business should legally have a fire detection and warning system in place, and this should be regularly tested. Fortnightly tests are recommended, and staff should be made aware that the alarms will be tested at a certain time.
Firefighting equipment depends upon the premises. For example, if there are large commercial kitchens, you will need to ensure there are fire blankets, and wet chemical fire extinguishers. Your fire safety officer will be able to provide you with further advice if you are unsure on the equipment required.
Testing Fire Safety Equipment
It is a legal requirement that all fire safety equipment is maintained, serviced and regularly tested. This includes:
- Fire/smoke alarms
- Fire blankets
- Fire hose reels
- Fire extinguishers
- Emergency exits
Can I Do My Own Fire Risk Assessment?
Yes, the duty holder can carry out fire risk assessments.
However, if you are not confident that you can meet the standards required, or have multiple sites, you may want to seek professional support. Inadequate fire risk assessments can cost lives and businesses.
Sovereign Fire and Security has over three decades of experience, consistently bringing our customers peace of mind when it comes to fire safety. We are able to conduct professional fire risk assessments annually on your behalf, helping to identify any hazards and ensure you remain safe and compliant.
Do I need to keep a record of fire alarm testing?
If you employ five or more people, it is legal requirement to keep fire safety records, but it is good practice in general for all businesses to keep a record. You may need to provide evidence of your compliance, usually in the form of test certificates, and this is often a requirement for insurance companies too.
Do I need to keep a record of the fire extinguisher testing?
Yes, it is good practice to keep a record of all testing completed but, if you employ five or more people, it is legal requirement. You may need to provide evidence of your compliance, usually in the form of test certificates, and this is often a requirement for insurance companies too.
Stay and Remain Compliant!
Understanding the UK’s complex fire safety regulations and ensuring you are compliant is imperative to the safety of your office. Spot checks are common and not following regulations can have a devastating impact on businesses, as well as lives. It is not an area to cut corners.
Stay compliant by handing over the intricacies to our team of fully qualified and experienced engineers. We offer a national and international service, ensuring consistent reassurance that our clients will always be safe and compliant with Sovereign Fire and Security.
Contact one of the team today to discuss your fire safety compliance requirements. >
Alternatively, have a read of our case studies to better understand the quality and dedication our team are renowned for.