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Fire Safety Order (2005) - Regulatory Reform Fire Safety Order (RRFSO)

Published 24/08/2012 11:00

Fire Safety Order (2005) – Regulatory Reform Fire Safety Order (RRFSO)


The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (RRFSO) is the most major reform of fire legislation in 30years and affects all non-domestic premises in England & Wales.


Gives prevention the same priority as protection by emphasising the prevention of fires and reduction of risk by carrying out a Risk Assessment and acting on the findings Defines who is responsible for ensuring the safety of everyone who uses the premises and the immediate vicinity Abolishes Fire Certificates

Who will it affect?

The FSO clearly defines responsibility in law, in that a ‘responsible person’ will be expected to take ownership of the safety of any persons within a building. The ‘responsible person’ is defined as the employer, owner or occupier who may have control of any part of the premises. For example; The employer with control of a premises, business or activity within Occupier of premises Owner of the premises (e.g. if building is empty) Where you share responsibility with other responsible persons (e.g. tenant, landlord, adjacent premises or multiple tenancy) you must co-operate, share information and collaborate to provide measures to comply with the FSO.

The order contains the phrase “The responsible person must… appoint one or more Competent Persons to assist him…” It goes on to say the competent person must have “…sufficient training, experience and knowledge…” This competent person can be directly employed (provided the responsible person ensures they are properly trained), may or may not be the fire risk assessor or a third party organisation.

The Institute of Fire Engineers (IFE) recommend the ‘competent’ possesses the following skills:

  • Underpinning knowledge of principals of fire safety Knowledge of causes of fire Knowledge of fire prevention measures
  • Knowledge of design and fire protection
  • Understanding of fire behaviour
  • Understanding of human behaviour in fire
  • There is no single route to this ‘competence’; it can be a blend of education, training and experience but does not depend on specific qualifications.

New Build and Refurbishment

The proposals affect all persons involved in any aspect of the built environment from the development of building concepts, through to the construction process, the occupation/use of the finished building (s), and the built environment. In effect, this means everyone to a greater or lesser extent will at some point be part of the initial or ongoing development and maintenance team. The real focus is on the re-emphasis of the responsibilities resting with the owners/occupiers of buildings and the way buildings are used and managed. Current CDM Regulations must still be adhered to during the construction / refurbishment process however it is necessary to consider and understand certain regulatory terms as a ‘plea of ignorance’ is no excuse under the law.

In summary; in order to comply with the requirements of the RRO, it is essential that the ‘responsible person’ is working with a ‘building and environment’ that complies from day 1.

Measures to be taken by the Responsible Person

Most of the measures to be taken are not new and most employers will already have policies, procedures and risk assessments in place. However, the law now defines who is responsible for the premises. The Responsible Person must carry out, record and update their Fire Risk Assessment if 5 or more people are employed, the premises has a licence in force or the Inspector requires it. Develop a Fire Policy to minimise risk, reduce the outbreak and spread of fire, provide a means of escape and demonstrate preventative action. Set up procedures for dealing with a fire, regular fire drills and evacuation procedures Document and Keep Records which include reviews of the risk assessment, fire safety policy, procedures and arrangements, training records, drills, certificates of installation and maintenance of any fire detection and safety systems or equipment. The Inspector can demand to see these records at any point in time.


Responsibility for enforcement will be with the local Fire and Rescue Service Authority, who will carry out regular inspections with priority going to premises possessing most risk to the community.

Fire Risk Assessment

This is the cornerstone of the Order and must be reviewed regularly and if necessary amended.

Carrying out a Fire Risk Assessment

The London Fire Brigade deem 5 stages in carrying out a Fire Risk Assessment:

Stage 1 – Identify the Fire Hazards Your risk assessment should list the potential sources of ignition (e.g. electrical equipment, heaters etc) and fuels (e.g. paper, gases LPG etc) that are present in your workplace.

Stage 2 – Identify People at Risk Attention needs to be paid to the speed, growth and spread of a fire, and associated risk of heat and smoke to people. Also consider people who may not find it easy to evacuate e.g. visitors, the disabled persons, contractors etc and how they will be aware of any fire that may occur.

Stage 3 – Evaluate the Risks Once the hazards and the persons at risk have been recorded, you must assess the effect of any particular hazard on occupants of the workplace (taking into account any existing control measures). Once this has been recorded, you must decide if any further control measures are needed in order to reduce the risk to an acceptable level, e.g. means of escape, staff training and fire warning systems.

Stage 4 – Record Findings and Actions If there are 5 or more people in the workplace a record of the findings and actions needs to be retained. An emergency plan should also be available for inspection by the Fire Brigade; this is the set of instructions all people in the workplace will use in the event of a fire, and should include details and actions to take on discovering a fire, to the fire fighting equipment provided.

Stage 5 – Review and Revise It is important to remember that fire risk assessment is a continuous process and as such must be monitored and audited. New and existing control measures should be maintained to make sure they are still working effectively.

Contents of a Fire Risk Assessment

The Institute of Fire Engineers (IFE) recommends the Fire Risk Assessment contain information on:

  1. The building
  2. The occupants
  3. The loss experienced
  4. Fire hazards and control measures
  5. Fire protection measures
  6. Management and fire safety
  7. The assessment of fire risk
  8. A suitable action plan
  9. Date for review (This could be every 6 months / 1 year depending on changes in the building/workplace, however, reviews may need to be undertaken on a more regular basis. For example, a shop stocking fireworks in October / November would have to review and update their risk assessment to a change in the level of hazard and risk to the occupants, premises and ‘others’.

The following are an example of specifics which may be included:

  1. Elimination or reduction of risks from dangerous substances including additional emergency measures
    1. Are separate storage areas available for waste materials, gas cylinders and flammable chemicals?
    2. Is combustible waste regularly disposed of?
  2. Fire Alarms, Smoke Detectors and Fire Fighting Equipment
    1. Are they checked and tested once a week by a trained and competent person and formally examined and tested 6 monthly by a competent person?
    2. Are maintenance and service records kept?
  3. Emergency routes and exits
    1. Are they easily unlocked by appropriate equipment e.g. push bar?
    2. Do they open in the direction of escape? 
  4. Signs and notices
    1. Are exit routes clearly marked with correct signs?
    2. Do they lead quickly to a safe area?
  5. Emergency lighting
    1. Are they checked and tested once a week by a trained and competent person and formally examined and tested 6 monthly by a competent person?
    2. Are maintenance and service records kept?
  6. Staff Training
    1. Is there a programme of fire drills, updates to employees and fire safety inductions for new employees?
    2. Are employees working in special risk areas (kitchens, laboratories etc) given specific training for the risks they are exposed to?
  7. Procedures for serious and imminent danger
    1. Has a risk assessment been conducted?
    2. Has an emergency plan been drawn up?

Please note: Documentation of significant findings needs to be accepted and acted upon by management.

Guidance The Order will be supported by a suite of eleven guidance documents for the majority of premises under which the order applies. They are aimed at the lay person and will be available in most bookshops or free in electronic format from the OPDM website.

Please Note: Details provided above are not comprehensive, they are merely designed to give an overview of the FSO. They should not be used as a fire risk assessment, but as a checklist to assist in identifying the practises and procedures that are in place within the workplace.  

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