Over the last few years, fire safety legislation has been developed and refined so that all roles and responsibilities are assigned to the right people. Landlords and building owners must comply with...Continue Reading
Over the last few years, fire safety legislation has been developed and refined so that all roles and responsibilities are assigned to the right people. Landlords and building owners must comply with a range of regulations to ensure the upkeep of buildings and the safety of occupants. That being said, the main piece of legislation for fire safety in the UK is the Fire Regulatory Safety Order.
To be responsible for fire safety means providing an in-depth, transparent overview of the condition of their building, and whether all necessary steps have been followed to reduce the risk of fire in their building. This article acts as an introductory guide, outlining exactly who is responsible for fire safety in a building. Furthermore, this article will define the rights of relevant authorities to enforce fire safety legislation.
Who enforces the Regulatory Fire and Safety Order?
The Regulatory Fire Safety Order is enforced primarily by the area’s local Fire and Rescue Authority (FRA). However, other organisations may enforce fire safety regulations in special circumstances, such as the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) or the Secretary of State for Defence’s fire service. If you are unsure as to where your FRA is based, you can either contact your nearest fire service or consult the National Fire Chief’s Council website.
The FRA employs inspectors, who are permitted to carry out the following to enforce the Regulatory Fire and Safety Order:
- Entering premises to carry out an inspection, identifying those responsible for maintaining fire safety protocol, and gaining both their compliance and assistance in carrying out the inspection where necessary.
- Evaluating compliance with all the necessary provisions specific to the Regulatory Fire and Safety order. If required they may request access to any mandatory records and plans, such as documentation relating to the building’s most recent Fire Risk Assessment (FRA).
- Taking material samples from premises to ascertain their safety/flammability. If these tests find any materials to be unsafe, inspectors can order them to be dismantled, destroyed, or tested further.
Who is responsible for fire safety?
Fire safety in commercial buildings is the responsibility of those in control of the premises. If that premises is a work or office space, the responsibility lies with the employer. Therefore, employers must carry out a thorough Fire Risk Assessment. Our recent article on fire safety regulations for commercial buildings explains all relevant procedures for FRAs.
However, some commercial property leases do specify that it is the duty of the landlord to be responsible for common spaces (e.g. stairways, reception areas, and fire safety systems such as alarms and fire doors.) Landlords are advised to speak to specialist landlord solicitors to ensure they are aware of their responsibilities as commercial property owners.
Landlords are also responsible for maintaining fire safety standards in residential buildings, including Houses of Multiple Occupancy (HMOs) and flats. Here are some examples of fire safety regulations for landlords:
Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors
Landlords are responsible for the installation and maintenance of smoke alarms on every floor in a building. Furthermore, any room which contains a solid fuel-burning appliance (such as a wood-burning stove or a coal fire) must be monitored using a carbon monoxide alarm. While these alarms should be checked regularly, the minimum requirement is for alarms to be tested at the start of every new tenancy.
Landlords must also be sure that fire doors are installed in flats, corridors, and staircases. Although these doors must be ‘self closing’, it is important that these doors do not bang shut as this can lead to them being wedged open. As well as this, any devices used to keep the fire doors closed must be checked for damage, degradation, or signs of tampering.
Passive fire protection and firestopping
Landlords are required to maintain appropriate firestopping for walls, floors and cavity barriers.
This includes being aware of any potential compartment breaches carried out by external contractors such as electricians or plumbers. Any breaches could render firestopping measures ineffective, so landlords must be proactive in identifying signs of damage or wear and tear.
CLM Fireproofing has worked over the last 30 years to establish itself as the UK’s market leader in passive fire protection. By employing expert FIRAS-accredited installers, as well as being an active member of the Association for Specialist Fire Protection (ASFP), we remain passionate about fire protection, safety, and compliance. Want to find out more about our specialist passive fire protection services? Contact our team of specialists today.