Falling foul of fire safety legislation can mean thousands of pounds in fines that could have been avoided if the correct steps were taken, writes the Fire Industry Association
Knowing and understanding what fire safety legislation means for schools can get complicated. However, it is vital to understand and comply with fire safety legislation as it is in place not only for the safety of everyone within the building, but also for the security of the school.
Falling foul of fire safety legislation can mean thousands of pounds in fines that could have been avoided if the correct steps were taken. At worst, failure to comply with legislation may lead to an actual fire that could devastate not only the building, but the lives of those inside.
Fire safety legislation applies to all non‑domestic properties such as businesses, shops, schools, hospitals, church buildings, festival halls, and leisure centres, for example. But it can also apply to housing associations, landlords, student halls of residence, and care homes. This is not an exhaustive list but it gives an idea of the scale of the need for everyone to understand, apply, and comply with fire safety regulations.
FIRE SAFETY ORDER
In England and Wales, the relevant legislation is called The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. In Scotland and Northern Ireland, different legislation applies: Fire (Scotland) Act 2005 and the associated Fire Safety (Scotland) Regulations 2006 for Scotland, and The Fire Safety Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2010 respectively for Northern Ireland.
Each sets out what employers, business owners, and landlords must do to comply with the legislation. They are referred to in the legislation as either the ‘Responsible Person’ (England and Wales), the ‘Duty Holder’ (Scotland), or the ‘Appropriate Person’, (Northern Ireland).
To simplify things, we will only refer to the Responsible Person in this article.
In order to ensure compliance with the legislation, it is vital to have a good understanding of what the duties of the responsible person or duty holder are.
In all cases, the conducting of a thorough fire risk assessment is a mandatory requirement. An unsatisfactory or uncompleted fire risk assessment could potentially mean a breach of the legislation and a fine, so it is important to carry out a robust and thorough assessment.
Knowing how to conduct a fire risk assessment is a technical skill, and whilst anyone can carry out an assessment, fire safety legislation states that the person completing the assessment must be ‘competent’.
However, many find the process daunting and do not often know where to begin or what needs to be included in the assessment (and therefore, perhaps, may not be deemed ‘competent’ enough to complete the task).
Thankfully there is plenty of advice and help available to get businesses and other non-domestic properties started.
The Fire Industry Association (FIA) is a not-for-profit organisation with a wealth of information and technical advice for anyone wishing to gain information about fire safety requirements as well as how to begin with a fire risk assessment.
Born from a merger of two age-old trade associations in 2007, the FIA has a history of giving fire safety advice and guidance stretching back 100 years. Indeed, this year is the 100-year anniversary of the FIA’s humble beginnings.
Since 2007, the FIA has more than doubled the number of members in the last four years alone to around 700 companies. The Association is now the prime technical resource for the fire industry, providing a safe platform for industry stakeholders to come together to resolve industry issues and produce best practice guidance documents for those in the fire safety industry as well as giving guidance to business owners on their fire safety responsibilities.
Expert knowledge from fire safety product managers and manufacturers is utilised to ensure that guidance given is as accurate and as detailed as possible whilst maintaining simplicity and accessibility to all.
The FIA aims to raise fire safety standards across the whole of the United Kingdom as well as give assistance to the public, business owners, and responsible persons/duty holders of their fire safety responsibilities.
The Association writes and publishes guidance documents and handbooks as well as produces videos on their YouTube channel in order to give the best possible guidance both to industry professionals as well as the general public in a way that can be easily read and understood.
Education of the public as well as business owners about fire safety is a huge priority and making it accessible to all is a key factor in the role of the FIA. Guides written by experts in the field are designed to simplify the legislation and make the steps towards compliance with the regulations as simple and easy as possible to understand and follow.
The FIA even advises and collaborates with government ministers to give them the best possible information if any legislative changes are proposed. As such the Association is able to best advise employers, business owners, schools, hospitals, and landlords of any legislative changes that are due to come into force, and what steps may need to be taken in order to ensure that all fire protection equipment such as fire alarms as well as fire risk assessments are compliant with the regulations.
RESEARCH AND RESOURCES
As a not-for-profit organisation, all funding goes straight back into leading research projects, providing CPD days, and giving vital seminars and training to keep people up‑to‑date with the latest changes to the industry and legislation.
The results of the research are published on the website along with a wealth of news and information surrounding fire safety requirements, including a selection of useful ‘mythbusters’ to help reduce the amount of confusion surrounding common misconceptions about fire safety requirements of responsible persons or duty holders.
All of the downloadable resources that the Association produces, such as guidance documents and handbooks are available free of charge on the website, including a dedicated section just to explain the obligations of duty holders and responsible persons according to the legislation.
A video introduction to fire risk assessments is also available, and is a good starting point for the average novice on the requirements of fire safety legislation. It is worth familiarising yourself with the material as it is a hugely valuable resource that aims to make compliance with the legislation as simple as possible.