Focus on Fire Safety: Recent increase in fire related incidents in last few weeks

Published: 11 Jan 2018

With the Grenfell tragedy still fresh in our minds 6 months on, fire safety is back in the headlines as a notable upsurge of fires were reported across the country in the last two months. Buildings implicated in these fires included hotels, multi story car park and a campus in Bristol.

We look at two recent fires and provide guidance of fire safety requirements and the role of the competent person:

A fire in December 2017 broke out in the early hours of the morning at Cameron House Hotel, Loch Lomond.  The fire claimed the lives of two of its residents Simon Midgley, 32, and Richard Dyson, 38. More than 200 guests were rushed from the building, with a family of two adults and a child rescued by ladder. The Loch Lomond based hotel announced that it will remain closed while investigations into the blaze and the damage caused continue.

In January this year a fire broke out in the roof of a Bristol University building. Fortunately on this occasion no loss of life was reported. It is reported that around 50 firefighters tackled the blaze in the Grade II listed Fry Building. The investigation found that refurbishment works were being carried out in the roof on Saturday afternoon which is believed to have led to the accidental fire starting.

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. Previously, 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.

The role of the responsible person for management of fire safety

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. The fire safety risks associated to your business must be identified and control measures put in place.
  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. An internal fire safety management system must be put in place and monitored to ensure that legal compliance is met.
  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 a written Fire Risk Assessment needs to be completed. 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.

Contact CSC for further advice on how to implement systems to protect your business from the risk of fire safety