The government is introducing new fire safety legislation that will fundamentally change the way buildings are fire protected. Turner & Townsend's Jon Cowan explains the new regime.

Significant changes to the fire safety legislative system are being proposed by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. The government aims to implement the new Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order (RRFSO) by 2005, which, if it wins parliamentry approval, will have far reaching effects on managing fire safety in buildings:

  • There will be one simple fire safety regime - this applies to all workplaces and other non-domestic premises
  • Fire safety will be risk assessment based and the responsibility for the occupants of the premises (and those who may be affected by a fire) will rest with a defined person, typically being: The employer; the occupier of the place; the owner; any other person who exercises the control over the place
  • Fire authorities will base their inspection programmes on the basis of those which they considered to be the highest risk
  • A duty to maintain fire precautions will be required under legislation, which are for the use and protection of the fire brigade
  • There will be a new statutory duty on fire authorities to community fire safety
  • And perhaps most importantly, there will no longer be a need for fire certification.

The proposals will impact upon all employers and those responsible for non-domestic premises.

In most instances this will require a competent review of all fire arrangements and the recording of findings via a risk assessment. This is where it is important to employ a suitably qualified consultant to undertake the task. They will have to ensure that all matters of legislative change are met, as well as ensuring the ultimate safety of the occupiers of the building.

The consultant should be able to undertake a thorough assessment of the property as well as the management of systems. The consultant should also ensure that adequate fire measures are in place and that they demonstrate compliance with fire safety legislation. The areas to cover are:

  • Management of fire safety
  • Means of escape
  • Sings and notices
  • General and emergency lighting
  • Detecting a fire
  • Raising the alarm
  • Fire fighting equipment
  • Structural features
  • Ignition risks
  • Training
  • Documentation

The ODPM are running seminars in major towns across England and Wales, as well as producing guidelines in order that all businesses are familiar with the changes and how they will affect them.

More information is also available from professional bodies such as the Health & Safety Executive, FPA, Institute of Fire Officers and the IOSH Fire Safety Group.

Turner & Townsend have prepared advice on how the changes will affect you and how they can help. For more information, contact Jon Cowlan on 0141 221 0558 or