The new Fire Safety legislation and its enforcement recognises the importance of fire safety management. Many requirements of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 concern management responsibilities. The legislation imposes a general duty to manage fire safety properly, while Fire Inspection Officers, in “Policing” the legislation, will also consider the standard of fire safety management along with the physical precautions.
As a guide the key components in managing fire safety in any building to comply with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order comprise:
- A documented and periodically reviewed fire risk assessment (this is mandatory if you employ 5 or more staff)
- A documented fire safety manual, setting out the buildings fire precautions, service and maintenance records, equipment records, fire drills, training etc. (this is mandatory if you employ 5 or more staff)
- A clearly defined responsibility for fire safety. The ” Responsible Person(s)”
- In house or external expertise in achieving compliance with legislation and fire protection policies.
- Suitable fire procedures, including arrangements for the evacuation of disabled people if relevant.
- Training of staff, and additional training for those with defined responsibility for fire safety.
- Properly conducted fire drills.
- Regular in house fire safety inspections.
- Formal arrangements for periodic inspection, testing and maintenance of fire extinguishers and other fire safety equipment.
- Inspection, testing and maintenance of plant and equipment (e.g. electrical installations)
Other issues for Safety Managers relate to specific work environments and are aimed primarily at fire prevention, typically:
- Maintain close supervision over the activities of outside contractors / temporary workers particularly if they are engaged in “Hot Work”.
- Implement additional safety procedures during hazardous activities such as hot work.
- Liaison and pre-planning with the operational personnel of the fire and rescue service as part of the emergency planning. Make sure everyone knows how to raise the alarm and call the emergency services
- Check any construction material alterations with the building control body.
- Good standards of fire prevention, including security against arson.
- Good standards of house keeping to avoid the accumulation of potential fire ignition sources.
- Identification and control of any dangerous or flammable substances.
- Documented and tested Contingency plans for a fire or other emergency.
The Role of a Fire Safety Manual or Log Book
The new RRO legislation contains no explicit requirements to keep log books (but the fire safety arrangements must be recorded if you employ 5 or more) however, it is difficult to demonstrate compliance with your legal responsibilities under the RRO unless such records are kept.
Records are important, as inspections by enforcing authorities, and the level of enforcing action, will be affected by their judgement of the effectiveness of fire management and in turn by the quality of record keeping.
You can find a full range of training and Compliance products including manuals, log books and secure fire resistant document holders within the product pages of Fire & Safety Centre.