Under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005
there is an absolute duty to ensure that
adequate precautions are taken to implement and
maintain fire safety in certain buildings.
Do I need a Fire Risk
Assessment on my house, flat or bedsit?
- There is generally no requirement to undertake a
Fire Risk Assessment on a house that is
occupied by the same family or even on a house where
there are up to two tenants living with a landlord.
However if the building is deemed to be a House in
Multiple Occupation, then a Fire Risk Assessment is
House in Multiple Occupation (HMO)
- There is an absolute legal duty to undertake a
Fire Risk Assessment on HMO’s. As a simple guide,
an HMO is a building where the following applies:
A house, flat, apartment,
bungalow etc., that is occupied by three or more
people who do not live as a single household
(family) and where they share a toilet or a bathroom
or cooking facilities.
A building that has been converted into flats
but the conversion does not satisfy the standards
set by the Building Regulations 1991 and less than
two-thirds of the flats are owner occupied.
A building which has been converted into one or more
bedsits or non self contained accommodation, where
the bedsits have been rented to 3 or more tenants
who are from two or more households where the
residents share facilities such as a kitchen or a
toilet or a bathroom.
A purpose-built block of flats is not
an HMO (however, an individual flat within it might
The laws specifying which buildings are HMO’s can be
complicated to interpret, with some buildings being
exempt from HMO status. If you are in any doubt you
should obtain expert advice or write to your Local
Fire and Rescue Authority requesting them to confirm
HMO or non HMO status.
- There is an absolute duty to undertake a Fire Risk
Assessment on the Common Parts of flats. Common
Parts are the communal areas leading to the flats
including the entrance, stairs, landings, escape
routes etc. The Inside of individual flats do not
require a fire risk assessment unless they are
classified as HMO’s.
Who is Responsible?
Legislation places the responsibility of fire safety
on the ‘Responsible Person(s)’. This can be
anyone who has control of a building and includes
those that have a degree of control, such as:
Any other person who has some control over a
part of the building or the Common Parts. For
example a Managing Agent.
The ‘Responsible Person(s)’ may be a number of
people who are all legally responsible
under the Fire Safety Order. Duties may be
performed in conjunction with the other responsible
persons, but it is not a legal defence to state that
you believed it was another person’s
responsibility. It is acceptable to undertake the
fire safety actions collectively, but you must
ensure that this is actually undertaken.
What Should I do?
The Fire Safety Order requires any person who
exercises some level of control in a building to
take reasonable steps to reduce the risk from fire
and ensure occupants can safely escape in the event
of fire. The first step is for a ‘Competent Person’
to undertake a suitable and sufficient Fire Risk
Assessment. You should then act on the findings,
maintain standards and equipment in accordance with
Fire Risk Assessments need to be regularly reviewed
to ensure they are still relevant. You do not need
to conduct a new Fire Risk Assessment every year,
however reassessment would be necessary if any
changes had occurred that could have a significant
impact on the fire safety, such as a fire incident,
refurbishment, changes to common fire safety
‘Competent' Person’ mean?
It is a requirement by the Fire Safety Order that a
‘Competent Person’ undertakes Fire Risk Assessments.
A competent person is someone who has sufficient
training and experience or knowledge and other
qualities. Therefore to be competent to undertake a
Fire Risk Assessment, significant knowledge and
experience in the following is required:
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005
Risk Assessment process and knowledge of the risks
Structural fire protection materials
Means of escape
Fire alarms, extinguishers and fire suppression
Building Regulations and British Standards
Fire safety signage and emergency lighting
Human behaviour under fire conditions
Fire hazards typical to a building type or process
What does Suitable &
It is a requirement of the Fire Safety Order that a
Fire Risk Assessment must be suitable and
sufficient. In practice this requires the
assessment to adequately identify the fire risks,
identify the people at risk and their location,
evaluate the risks, record the findings and actions
to be taken, keep the assessment under review.
Failure to complete a suitable and sufficient Fire
Risk Assessment means that the Responsible Person(s)
could be breaking the law.
Failure to comply with fire safety duties can render
the ‘Responsible Person(s)’ to fines of up to £5,000
for summary offences and unlimited fines and or
imprisonment for up to two years for indictable