Fire safety: The role of the responsible person

Published: 7 Mar 2016

Following on from the recent webinar conducted by John Briggs/Fire Protection Association, the following briefing notes have been compiled. Specific focus was placed on the expectations that need to be met by the competent person and ways to limit exposure to prosecution.


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 in respect of those premises.

The key duties are broken down as follows:


  1. The responsible person must take such general fire safety precautions as reasonable practicable 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 occurred in the premises which may affect safe egress 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 person 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 will result in a summary conviction which is a penalty of 2 years and a fine.


For additional information, the full webinar is available via the Youtube link below: