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Fire Safety Responsible Person – What is a “Responsible Person”?

June 23rd, 2023

Last updated: June 23rd, 2023

Fire safety regulations in the UK rely heavily on the term “responsible person” but what does this mean in the context of the Fire Safety Order?

Fire safety responsible person isn’t just a generic term used to describe somebody who knows their stuff when it comes to fire prevention and fire protection, it is an important distinction to help establish who holds the ultimate responsibility for how a workplace or commercial property deals with all things fire related.

What The Government Says About Being a Responsible Person

The Government’s guidelines for workplace fire safety explain the very basics of who counts as a responsible person, and there can be multiple people who are responsible.

You’re responsible for fire safety in business or other non-domestic premises if you’re:

  • an employer
  • the owner
  • the landlord
  • an occupier
  • anyone else with control of the premises, for example a facilities manager, building manager, managing agent or risk assessor

You’re known as the ‘responsible person’. If there’s more than one responsible person, you have to work together to meet your responsibilities.

The Fire Safety Order also applies if you have paying guests, for example if you run a bed and breakfast, guesthouse or let a self-catering property.

Fire Safety Responsibilities

Under the Fire Safety Order there are many different aspects of safety that should be considered. If you are one of the people who is responsible for a commercial property and its fire safety, ensure that all of the following aspects have been considered and dealt with.

  1. Fire risk assessment: The responsible person must conduct a thorough fire risk assessment of the premises to identify potential hazards, assess the level of risk, and implement appropriate fire safety measures.
  2. Fire prevention: It is the responsibility of the responsible person to take measures to prevent fires. This includes ensuring the premises are equipped with appropriate fire detection and warning systems, maintaining fire-fighting equipment, and implementing measures to control sources of ignition and combustible materials.
  3. Emergency planning: The responsible person must establish and maintain an emergency plan, which includes procedures for evacuation, communication, and coordination with emergency services. They should also provide staff with adequate fire safety training and information on emergency procedures.
  4. Maintenance and testing: Regular maintenance, inspection, and testing of fire safety equipment, such as fire alarms, extinguishers, and emergency lighting, should be carried out to ensure their proper functioning.
  5. Record keeping: The responsible person is required to keep records of fire safety measures implemented, risk assessments, testing and maintenance records, and staff training. These records should be readily available for inspection by enforcing authorities.
  6. Cooperation and coordination: The responsible person must cooperate and coordinate with other relevant parties, such as employees, other employers in shared premises, and enforcing authorities (such as the fire and rescue service).

It’s important to note that the specific responsibilities may vary depending on the nature and size of the premises. The responsible person should always stay informed about any updates or changes in fire safety legislation and ensure compliance with the applicable regulations.

What If Your Fire Safety Isn’t Up To Scratch?

Fire safety should always be taken very seriously within a business. It is possible that your local fire authority may issue you with one of the following notices if you do not meet requirements:

Alterations notice

You could get an alterations notice if your premises have high safety risks or will have high safety risks if the use of the premises changes.

Enforcement notice

You could get an enforcement notice if the fire and rescue authority finds a serious risk that’s not being managed. It will say what improvements are needed by when.

Prohibition notice

These take effect immediately if the fire and rescue authority thinks the fire risk is so great that access to your premises needs to be prohibited or restricted.

So, as you can see, it is possible that your whole business could be impacted by any problems you have meeting the legal obligations. Not meeting these responsibilities could also leave a business owner or occupier of the premises open to a legal battle or action from employees and other members of the public in the event of a fire.

2022 Updates to the Fire Safety Regulations

Read our full guide to the regulation changes here. Many of these changes only refer to houses of multiple occupancy, for instance, it is now essential that the responsible persons (those delegated to be responsible for the fire safety processes) provide information about fire doors.

Many of the rules also apply to commercial buildings that are 11 metres or higher, for instance, there must now be a secure information box on site that contains this information to help identify fire suppression and safety equipmentdry risers, and other relevant firefighting equipment.

Help Meeting Your Fire Safety Responsibilities

It can be daunting knowing that you are responsible for the safety of certain individuals. You can read all of Article 24 of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 if you need further information or specific wording.

Just because you are a fire safety responsible person doesn’t mean you can’t get help. We have a long history of helping businesses with their fire safety, and can test all the components of your system, including the alarms, and make sure that they are working correctly. Robinsons Facilities Services can help with all aspects of your fire safety, from risk assessments to sprinkler systems.

Working across Yorkshire, we cover North YorkshireWest YorkshireEast Yorkshire and South Yorkshire and offer a fast, efficient response time to all breakdowns and repairs. Contact us today for all plannedreactive maintenance or emergency call out. Call 01423 226578 or get in touch to see how Robinsons Facilities Services can help.

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