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Who Is Responsible For Building Fire Safety?

This Responsible Person is liable for taking any reasonable steps to reduce the risks of a fire taking place on the premises and ensuring people can safely evacuate the building should a fire ever occur.

In this article, we’ll provide insight into the characteristics of a Responsible Person,  the regulations they need to follow and their duties, such as conducting fire safety audits.

What Are the Characteristics of a Responsible Person?

The Responsible Person is anyone who has control of premises or has a degree of control over certain areas or systems within premises.

This means the Responsible Person’s job role can vary depending on the type of premises in question. There might be more than one Responsible Person operating on premises in some cases. Some examples of the Responsible Person include:

  • Someone who controls the premises
  • An employer, employee or self-employed person responsible for a part of a dwelling used for business purposes
  • A charitable or voluntary organisation
  • A contractor with responsibility for maintenance of any premises or, particularly in relation to, the fire protection of the premises
  • Contractors and consultants carrying out fire risk assessments also have duties under the legislation
  • The owner or managing agent of a block of flats in England and Wales

If a business has more than one Responsible Person at the same time, they must work together to ensure they meet all of the fire responsibilities.

It’s also imperative for those responsible to take their role seriously. Keeping on top of regulations and ensuring the correct procedures are followed can ultimately be the difference between life and death.

A local fire and rescue authority may visit your premises at any given point. Should they discover that your fire safety measures aren’t adequate, this can lead to serious consequences, including unlimited fines and, in some cases, considerable jail terms.

Due to the seriousness of the matter, the Responsible Person should have sufficient training, experience and knowledge regarding fire safety. One of the critical steps to making sure this happens is by keeping on top of regulations.

 

What Regulations Does a Responsible Person Need to Follow?

All businesses must have a fire risk assessment.  This is the cornerstone of fire protection in your business and will be the first check an inspecting officer will make if they inspect your premises.

A fire risk assessment is a review undertaken of a building to assess its fire risk and offer recommendations to make it safer, if necessary.

As well as this, UK fire legislation states a business must provide appropriate fire-fighting equipment. This includes equipment such as:

  • Fire extinguishers
  • Fire alarms
  • Sprinkler systems
  • Fire doors

It’s also essential your entire team knows what to do in the event of a fire and new employees must be shown the procedure as soon as they join a business. Therefore, the Responsible Person should be competent when running training sessions and establishing how regularly these training sessions should run.

It involves carrying out fire drills and appointing people, often known as Fire Marshals and Wardens, to use fire extinguishers in the case of an emergency.

 

What Are the Duties of the Responsible Person?

There are several critical duties the Responsible Person must undertake. These are set out in the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order. Some of the most important ones include:

  • Taking fire precautions to ensure the safety of employees and premises
  • Undertaking a risk assessment
  • Making arrangements for the effective planning, organisation, control, monitoring and review of the preventive and protective measures
  • Eliminating or reducing risks from dangerous substances
  • Ensuring routes to emergency exits and the exits themselves are kept clear at all times
  • Making sure fire equipment is maintained in an appropriate state, in efficient working order and in good repair
  • Appointing one or more competent persons to assist them in undertaking preventive and protective measures
  • Cooperating and coordinating with other Responsible Persons

Managing the ongoing fire safety of premises is just one crucial element of the Responsible Person’s role. Other functions will be part of their day to day duties, as outlined in the 2022 Building Safety Bill.

With the Bill fast coming into effect, we’ve created a guide that delves deeper into what the Bill looks like, what will change in terms of building safety regulation and also the top considerations people with some level of responsibility when managing building safety need to be aware of.

It’s available to read below.

Building Safety Guide