New UK Fire Safety Laws Come Into Force

Anyone responsible for a business premises in England and Wales must take action from 1 October 2006 to comply with new, simpler and safer fire laws.

From that date, fire safety law will be covered by one piece of legislation in most premises and fire certificates will be abolished.

Instead, the emphasis will be on preventing fires and reducing risk with a ‘responsible person’ tasked to ensure the safety of everyone who uses the premises including carrying out checks on fire protection equipment and facilities.

To help business, the Government has reinforced the comprehensive suite of guidance already published with a new, interactive feature on the Fire Gateway website (www.fire.gov.uk) which allows users to self-assess the risk to their premises.

The Minister responsible for the fire and rescue service, Angela Smith, said:

“Risk assessment is a process that should be familiar to all businesses and the self-employed across England and Wales. These new rules will remove burdens from business - replacing over 70 separate pieces of fire safety legislation with a single reform.

“If your premises complies with current fire safety regulations, then the major difference you will notice is that new rules are cheaper and easier to follow especially as, in most cases, you will now been dealing with one regime and one enforcer.”

CFO Iain Cox, chairman of the Chief Fire Officers Association National Fire Safety Committee, said:

“Compliance with the new Order should be straightforward for those businesses that meet the existing standards. All employers and others who have a responsibility for fire safety are urged to check their procedures by using the self assessment available on the Fire Gateway website (www.fire.gov.uk).

“Fire and Rescue Services will be carrying out audits to check compliance and where standards are not acceptable they will work with the responsible person to identify a suitable solution.

“Formal enforcement action using notices or the courts is very much the option of last resort other than in the most serious of cases.

“Our over-riding aim is to reduce the numbers of fires, the number of people killed and injured and the risk to business from fire.”

There are a series of guides to assist those preparing fire risk assessments including the basic ‘A short guide to making your premises safe from fire’ which is available to download on the DCLG website (www.firesafetyguides.communities.gov.uk) or get a free copy via your local fire and rescue service.

More detailed guidance targeted at specific areas of business will be available to download free of charge at www.firesafetyguides.communities.gov.uk. These include:

  • Offices and Shops
  • Premises providing Sleeping Accommodation
  • Residential Care
  • Small and Medium Places of Assembly
  • Large Places of Assembly
  • Factories and Warehouses
  • Theatres and Cinemas
  • Educational Premises
  • Healthcare Premises
  • Transport Premises and Facilities
  • Open Air Events

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