News. -MCP - Commercial Building Consultants Advice and information from industry experts

Fire safety legislation explained

Fire-escapeMCP, working with a managing agent, has been instructed to upgrade a number of common parts to meet the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. Until recently fire safety was covered by about seventy pieces of fire safety legislation, the principal ones being the Fire Precautions Act 1961 and the Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations 1997/1999.

However the regulations were simplified under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 in England and Wales.

The regulations apply to ‘premises’ which the order defines to include ‘any place’ such as a workspace, although not to ‘domestic premises’. This does sound confusing, but essentially means that common parts of a building which contain dwellings will be covered but not premises that solely contain private dwellings, such as a block of flats.

The duty is on the ‘responsible person’, who will generally be the person responsible for managing the common parts. This can include the freeholder, managing agents, etc.

There is duty on the ‘responsible person’ to ‘take such general fire precautions as may reasonably be required in the circumstances of the case to ensure that the premises are safe’. The fire safety risk assessment duty of the ‘responsible person’ is to assess the risk to people from fire, taking into account the existing fire safety measures and to determine if additional measures are required.

The legislation states that ‘any such assessment must be reviewed by the responsible person regularly so as to keep it up to date’. Presumably the frequency of the risk assessment may depend on the building.

The legislation is enforced by the local fire and rescue authority, who can carry out inspections and serve enforcement notices on the ‘responsible person’ in the event of non-compliance.

As the duties under the Fire Safety Order (FSO) are widespread, there will often be cost involved in compliance, such as inspection costs, upgrade of communal doors, fire extinguishers, signposting means of escape, etc.

During our specification preparation we have been supported by the independent consultant that undertook the fire safety risk assessment for the managing agents to ensure the properties comply with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

MCP have taken the recommendations, prepared the specification of the works, tendered and managed the works on site so leaving the common parts compliant with current regulations. Contact us to discuss how you can make your commercial properties compliant with current fire safety regulations.