Fire Safety Implications: Understanding the role of the responsible person

Published: 11 Jul 2017

Last month’s tragedy at the Grenfell Tower block in North Kensington which claimed more than 80 lives, has resulted in fire safety standards being evaluated across numerous sectors of the industry especially those which provide accommodation - both long and short term. To date, the investigation into this tragedy is still ongoing with an inquest also planned.

Since the inception of the Sentencing Guidance in 2016, record fines for contraventions of fire safety requirements have been issued. In certain instances, individuals have also been jailed. As previously reported, Bristol based, Bengal Raj restaurant had been found guilty of breaking numerous fire safety laws. Zamshed Alam’s restaurant owner had been jailed for 6 months for contraventions which included failure to carry out a fire risk assessment, obstruction of fire exit routes and failure to fit an appropriate fire alarm.

In this article we revisit the role of the responsible person for management of fire safety in your organisation. Adhering to basic fire safety requirements could save your business from a possible disaster and unnecessary loss of life.

The Responsible Person 

Firstly, it is important to understand the meaning of the term, ‘Responsible Person’.

The responsible person can either be 1) the employer, 2) the owner of the premises and 3) the person who controls the premises.

Companies do not specifically have to appoint someone to be the responsible person, it can be a person by default. i.e. you become the responsible person by virtue of the job that you do.

Duties of the responsible persons

The responsible person must ensure that any duties imposed by Articles 8 to 24 of Regulatory Reform Fire Safety Order 2005 is complied with respect of those premises.

The key duties are broken down as follows:

  1. The responsible person must take such general fire safety precautions as reasonably practical to ensure the safety of his/her employees and other relevant people who are not employees. In doing so, ensuring that the premises are safe.
  2. The responsible person must ensure that a fire risk assessment is conducted in line with the RRF0.
  3. The fire risk assessment must be reviewed on an annual basis or when any changes occur in the premises which may affect safe exit out of the building.
  4. Eliminate or reduce dangerous substances.
  5. Premises must be equipped with appropriate fire fighting and fire detection equipment.
  6. Must ensure that routes to fire exits and fire exits are kept clear at all times.
  7. Must carry out fire evacuation drills and have appropriate procedures in place.
  8. Appoint an adequate amount of competent persons to assist with managing of fire safety. This should be highlighted in the fire risk assessment.
  9. Safety arrangements for the use and storage of dangerous substances must be in place and brought to the attention of relevant persons.
  10. Maintain all fire systems.
  11. Important fire safety information must be communicated to all employees, i.e. fire safety policies, procedures and who the responsible/competent persons are.
  12. Communication of important fire safety information applies to everyone who will be in the premises including employees, other workers and sub contractors.
  13. The competent person must ensure that all employees receive the necessary training, i.e. induction, refresher training and when changes occur in fire safety arrangements/legislation.


Key considerations:

If the business employs more than 5 people, then the above mentioned criteria will apply. Failure to comply with these requirements could result in a conviction which is a penalty of 2 years plus a fine.

At CSC, our team of experts are able to advise on all matters relating to fire safety legislation. We can help ensure that your business is kept safe a minimise your exposure to prosecution.

Contact us for advice today.