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Fire Risk Assessments - General Information
The Law
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 virtually all premises.
How does the law affect me?  
The Fire Safety Order places the responsibility of fire safety on the ‘Responsible Person’.  This can be anyone who has control of a building or anyone who has a degree of control, such as:
The Employer for those parts of the premises they have any control over. 
The Owner of the building for those parts of a premises or common fire safety equipment such as fire warning systems or sprinklers. 
The occupier of premises that are not workplaces such as a chairperson in a parish hall.   
The occupier of premises that are not workplaces such as a chairperson in a parish hall.  
Any other person person who has some control over a part of a premises may be the responsible person in so far as that control extends.  
Residential dwellings are not generally affected by the Fire Safety Order however the common parts of flats are.  All houses classified as a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) are also affected.
In many premises the ‘Responsible Person’ may be a number of people who are all responsible under the Fire Order.  You may wish to perform the duties 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.  In these circumstances it is acceptable to undertake the fire safety actions collectively, but you must ensure that this is actually undertaken. 
What is classed as a premises?   
The Fire Safety Order applies to virtually all premises and covers nearly every type of building, structure and open space.  For example offices and shops, premises that provide care, community halls, the common areas of flats, Houses in Multiple Occupation, pubs clubs and restaurants, schools, marquees, hotels, guest houses, hostels and self catering accommodation, factories, warehouses and stables etc.  
What Should I do? 
The Fire Safety Order requires any person who exercises some level of control in a premises 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 Fire Risk Assessment.  You should then act on its findings, maintain standards and equipment in accordance with the law.  Maintenance needs to be checked through established procedures.
You need to regularly review the assessment to ensure that it is still relevant.  You would need to conduct a new Fire Risk Assessment if any changes had occurred since the previous assessment that could have a significant impact on the fire safety of the area concerned, such as refurbishment, staff or process changes etc.  
What does Competent' Person’ mean?  
It is a requirement by the Fire Order and The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 that a ‘Competent Person’ undertakes the Fire Risk Assessment.  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
Fire causes
Structural fire protection materials
Fire alarms, extinguishers and fire suppression equipment
Fire safety signage and emergency lighting
Fire hazards typical to a building type or process
Risk Assessment  process and knowledge of the risks
Building construction
Means of escape
Building Regulations and British Standards
Human behaviour under fire conditions
Reviewing Risk Assessments
The Fire Order requires that all premises where employees and members of the public have access must have a Risk Assessment and that this is undertaken by a ‘Competent Person’. Control measures must be introduced to reduce the risk of fire occurring, protect employees, contractors and members of the public on the premises, protect adjacent properties and the environment.
Failure to comply with fire safety duties can render organisations and the ‘Responsible Person’ to fines of up to £5000 for summary offences and unlimited fines and or imprisonment for up to two years for indictable offences
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