UK Fire Safety Regulations

  • Health & Safety
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Peninsula Group, HR and Health & Safety Experts

(Last updated )

In this guide, we'll explain what legislation covers fire safety in the UK, changes to the law, and steps to follow to ensure compliance.

When running a business, the Health & Safety of your employees should be paramount. You are legally responsible for protecting staff from harm – especially from the risk of fire.

In the event one breaks out, it's vital both you and your staff members know what to do and how to act safely.

Not doing so can lead to serious consequences, not just to your business - but to the health of your employees.

In this guide, we'll explain what legislation covers fire safety in the UK, changes to the law, and steps to follow to ensure compliance.

Why is fire safety important?

Fire safety is extremely important for all business owners for a number of reasons. If a fire breaks out in your company it can lead to serious damage, not just to your building - but to your employees and any visitors on site.

You have a duty of care to protect your business’s staff, customers, and visitors. To do so, you must install and maintain the best fire safety measures, as well as comply with relevant legislation.

What legislation covers fire safety in the UK?

Fire safety in the UK is covered by The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and the Fire Safety Act 2021. These are known as Fire Safety Regulations 2022, The Fire Safety Order or RRO.

Additional fire safety requirements for domestic premises are covered in the Fire Safety Act 2021. However, you need to be aware of the new fire safety changes made to the Building Safety Act in October.

What is the new legislation for the Building Safety Act?

There were several pieces of legislation introduced to the Building Safety Act in October 2023. So if your business operates from within a building - such as a shop or office space, you must become familiar with them.

The new changes ask business owners to:

  • Make a record of the relevant fire safety matters, including your fire risk assessment.
  • Only appoint people who are competent or fully trained to help with the risk assessment.
  • Fully record the identity of any people assisting with the risk assessment.
  • Make a record of any fire safety arrangements.
  • Take steps to liaise with other responsible persons within the building, to ensure a coordinated approach to fire safety.

What is a "responsible person"?

A responsible person is someone whose job is to make sure fire safety duties are carried out. They’re in charge of putting actions in place to prevent fires from happening within your company.

They must create and implement correct arrangements for:

  • Planning.
  • Controlling.
  • Monitoring.
  • Reviewing preventive and protective measures.

If the responsible person for your company leaves the business, their replacement must be provided with any relevant fire safety information. Which might include:

  • Instructions on arranging for a competent person to carry out a fire risk assessment.
  • Information on any other person appointed to help with these assessments.
  • The name and address of any other responsible persons.

Appointing a responsible person in your company strengthens fire safety and helps keep everyone safe. Failure to do so could lead to investigations and fines by enforcement authorities.

UK fire safety legislation explained in simple steps

As an employer, you have a duty of care to keep your staff, customers, and site visitors safe at all times. Carrying out the following steps will help you protect everyone to the best of your ability.

Let's discuss them in more detail:

Step one: Carry out a fire risk assessment

Every business must have completed a fire risk assessment. This is a key way to avoid the potential risk of a fire starting on your company premises.

Along with your fire safety log book, this is the first item an inspecting fire officer will want to see during an inspection.

To carry out a fire risk assessment, you should:

  • Appoint a competent person with sufficient knowledge, experience and qualifications.
  • Identify any potential causes of fire in the workplace.
  • Identify any people potentially at risk.
  • Assess how suitable current fire safety measures are, such as fire alarms and extinguishers.
  • Assess how suitable your ongoing management of fire safety is in your business, such as training.
  • Keep a continual record of any significant risks identified following the assessment.
  • Develop a fire safety action plan if changes are required.
  • Update the fire risk assessment regularly.

Any changes made following the risk assessment should also be recorded.

Step two: Install appropriate fire-fighting equipment

Under UK fire safety legislation, all employers are legally required to provide appropriate fire-fighting equipment.

Typically, this is done in the form of portable fire extinguishers. But for higher-risk buildings and premises - such as restaurants - hose reels or sprinklers are an option.

Your fire extinguishers must be:

  • Maintained and in good working order.
  • Tested annually as part of your fire safety arrangements.
  • Maintained by a competent person.

They may also need to be certified to certain industry standards. But this will be checked with the relevant authority, depending on what industry your business is in.

Step three: Install fire safety signs

You are legally required to display two fire safety signs. These signs are vitally important for displaying fire safety information, and making employees aware of where your extinguishers are.

As well as an extinguisher sign, you also need a Fire Action Notice. This notice provides instructions on what to do during a fire, such as how to raise the fire alarm and escape route details.

What other signs you need will become obvious after conducting your fire risk assessment. For example, you may also require the following signage in your business:

  • Fire Action Notice: Mandatory for all premises.
  • Fire extinguisher ID sign: Mandatory for all premises, explains and locates each fire extinguisher.
  • Fire exit signs: Signs clearing explaining how to exit the premises in case of a fire.
  • Fire alarm call signs: Mandatory if you have fire alarms, they make clear how to activate them.
  • Fire equipment signs: These are needed if you have a hose reel and signposts where they're located.
  • Warning signs: Highlights where potential dangers are, required if there are extra risks on site.

Step four: Install fire safety alarms

Although not a legal requirement if your business premises is small, it's advantageous to have fire alarms installed.

For a higher-risk building, such as a restaurant or bar - they must be part of your fire safety arrangements.

Under UK fire safety regulations, larger businesses must have a fire detection system. Meaning you need to:

  • Have a manual or automatic system.
  • Have an automatic system if it's highly likely a fire could block exit routes or be undetected.
  • Make sure everyone in the building can clearly hear the alarm.
  • Have an alarm call point on every floor of the building.
  • Test the alarm weekly.
  • Have your alarm serviced at least once every six months.
  • Ensure the person testing and maintaining the alarms is fully competent.

Step five: Emergency lighting

Under fire regulations, emergency lighting is required in buildings to provide extra light if a fire causes a power cut. Emergency lighting has three purposes:

  • To illuminate escape routes and help people to find fire-fighting equipment.
  • To keep communal areas lit during a fire, to hopefully avoid extra panic.
  • To provide lighting so dangerous processes can be shut down.

If your building doesn't have enough natural light to ensure exit routes are lit in the event of a power cut, emergency lighting is required. It's also required for rooms that are larger than 60 square metres.

British Standards recommends that emergency lighting should:

  • Be flick-tested monthly.
  • Undergo a full service once a year.
  • Have a three-hour emergency lighting test once a year. This is where your emergency lighting is left on for a three-hour period, whilst your main lights are switched off.

Step six: Provide training to your employees

Another key step in your fire safety process is to provide training on fire safety guidance to all your employees. This includes all new starters, as well as annual refresher training for other employees.

All your staff members must know what to do if a fire occurs in your business, and how to act safely. You must ensure that you do the following:

  • Provide training updates to staff if there are any changes to the business, such as building alterations.
  • Regularly carry out fire drills, for example bi-annually.
  • Appoint Fire Marshals or Wardens who are trained to use extinguishers if required, contact the emergency services, and assist with evacuations.

Get expert advice on UK fire safety regulations from Peninsula

When running your business, fire safety should be one of your main priorities.. And there is legislation in place to ensure you protect any people you have working for your business, as well as visitors and customers.

Not following these correctly means you're putting your staff members at risk from serious injury, and even death. Which is why it's vital you follow UK fire safety regulations correctly at all times.

Our teams offers expert advice on fire safety. Our teams provide 24/7 Health & Safety advice which is available 365 days a year. We take care of everything when you work with our Health & Safety experts.

Want to find out more? Contact us on 0800 028 2420 and book a free consultation with a Health & Safety consultant today.

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