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The Fire Safety Act – A Simple Summary

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Have you found yourself baffled by the Fire Safety Act? Or do you just need to refresh your existing knowledge? This summary of the Fire Safety Act will provide you an informative yet digestible guide to ensuring your workplace meets the correct levels of fire safety.

What is the Fire Safety Act?

In simple terms, the Fire Safety Act (Regulatory Reform Order 2005) is an order that states that anyone with some level of control over a business must ensure that reasonable steps are taken to ensure that the risk of fire is reduced and that people can escape in the occurrence of a fire. The Fire Safety Act covers nearly every type of structure, building or public space, but it does not apply to people’s private homes (including individual flats in a block).

What are the Requirements of the Act?

Burning ForestThere are a number of responsibilities that need to be taken out in order to meet the requirements of the Fire Safety Act. Firstly, a Fire Risk Assessment must be carried out. For details of what is required of the Fire Risk Assessment, please see our blog post about the Five Step of Risk Assessment. Each step is designed to ensure that the proper handling of a risk is undertaken as well as how to ensure that all measures are taken to solve the problem; such as recording the details of the risk, alerting members of staff and creating a plan so that in the event of fire, all members of staff are able to evacuate the building safely. Once a risk assessment has been undertaken, the next thing to consider is how the risk can be reduced, or if possible, completely removed. Usual risk treatment involves; • Highly flammable materials being replaced with less flammable ones • Flammable materials being separated from sources of ignition • Holding a safe smoking policy As an absolute minimum, the following must be considered when conducting a risk assessment; • Fire Detection and Alarm Systems; It is absolutely vital that a work premises has a suitable fire detection and alarm system. This system should be able to warn all people of a fire in any circumstance. • Methods of Fighting a Small Fire; It may be acceptable to have a multi-purpose fire extinguisher with a guaranteed shelf life. It is advised that there should be one fire extinguisher per 200 metre squared (m2) Another crucial point to consider is your buildings escape routes. You must ensure that all escape routes are easily accessible and clear at all times.

Am I Responsible for Meeting the Order?

If you possess any control over an area of a premises, team or system, then you are responsible for ensuring the order is met. Those who possess control include*; • The employer for those parts of premises staff may go to; • The managing agent or owner for shared parts of premises or shared fire safety equipment such as fire-warning systems or sprinklers; • The occupier, such as self-employed people or voluntary organisations if they have any control; or • Any other person who has some control over a part of the premises.

So, Does my Workplace Meet the Order?

Hopefully the information conveyed in this summary has helped you to understand as to whether your workplace meets the Fire Safety Act. Please ensure that all the fire-safety equipment in your workplace is fully operational and in perfect working order to ensure that in the event of a fire you and your work colleagues minimise the risk of damage and loss of life as much as possible. And finally, remember fire-safety is everyone’s responsibility. It is your responsibility to ensure that you and your work colleagues are at a minimal risk from injury resulting from fire. (*Description courtesy of HM Government: A Short Guide to Making Your Premises Safe From Fire -(www.gov.uk/download.pdf) Photo credit: torbakhopper via photopin cc
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