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fire safety in commercial premises - new user friendly guidance

14 July 2011

New user friendly guidance

Every year people die or are seriously injured as a result of fires in non-domestic properties. Besides the human risk, fire can cost UK business millions of pounds due to property damage, fines, compensation, and insurance premiums.

Fire safety regulations apply to virtually all non-domestic premises in England and Wales as well as the communal parts of blocks of flats or HMOs (houses of multiple occupancy).

All employers or any person who has control over premises or activities that take place on premises; have responsibilities under fire safety legislation.

A failure to comply with fire safety legislation can lead to significant legal action and fines, costs and/or imprisonment, as can be seen in the following examples:

  • Tesco was fined £95,000 in April 2010 and ordered to pay over £24,000 in relation to five breaches of fire safety legislation
  • the Co-operative Group was fined over £200,000 in April 2010 following fire safety breaches at one of its stores
  • high street retailer New Look has been fined £400,000 and ordered to pay £136,052 in costs for two breaches of fire safety legislation
  • Southern Cross Healthcare Limited, a leading provider of care homes, was ordered to pay out £100,000 for inadequate fire safety standards at one of its homes
  • hotel management company Mill House Inns Trading Ltd, was fined £25,000 plus £11,000 costs following breaches of fire safety laws at a hotel.

It is therefore essential to ensure that responsibilities under fire safety legislation are met and that businesses are successfully managing fire safety in commercial premises.

The Fire Industry Association (FIA) has issued a best practice guide to fire safety in commercial premises in order to clarify some of the confusion remaining in relation to this area.

It is described as a user friendly document giving helpful indications as to how the responsible person should interpret fire safety legislation and how to best prepare fire risk assessments in relation to your premises.

The following topics are included within the guidance;

  • premises affected - the responsible person (RP)
  • the fire risk assessment
  • steps to completing the fire risk assessment
  • protective measures
  • equipment and facilities
  • recording, planning, informing, instructing and training
  • enforcement

The guidance can be downloaded from the FIA website by clicking here.

Browne Jacobson specialises in fire safety, enforcement and guidance in relation to this area of legislation. Should you require advice or assistance in relation to any aspect of fire safety compliance, please contact our health and safety team who will be happy to discuss your requirements with you.

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