Definition of a responsible person
The responsible person is the person who is responsible for the safety of themselves and others who use regulated premises.
This is normally a building owner, or in residential properties, any other person in control of the premises. The responsible person is the person on whom most of the duties set out in the Fire Safety Order are imposed.
You have identified yourself as the Responsible Person which includes the following (these are non-exhaustive examples and will depend on the circumstances):
Employers (for workplace premises)
This may be an individual or a company and includes family-run businesses that may not naturally see themselves as traditional employer. If the workplace is to any extent under their control the employer is the Responsible Person under the Fire Safety Order even if they have never visited the premises or appointed managers to run the business.
People with control of the premises
This can include occupiers or people conducting business, trade or other undertakings, or where it is not a workplace or there is no employer. This relates to premises that are workplaces, but where there is not a traditional employer/employee relationship such as premises operated by volunteers including village halls, scout huts, places of worship, guest houses and charity shops.
In multi-occupied residential buildings, managing agents are often appointed by the freeholder to manage the common areas of the building and may have control over this area of the building.
Depending on the contract, the management company could be the Responsible Person or the Duty Holder.
This is where neither of the above applies and the person in control of the premises does not have control in connection with the carrying on by that person of a trade, business or other undertaking. It can include the non-domestic parts of multi-occupied residential buildings where there is no management agent contracted to manage the building. It also includes unoccupied buildings which the Fire Safety Order applies to.
Fire safety measures to be taken by Responsible Persons
As the Responsible Person, you must comply with Articles 8 to 22 and 38 of the Fire Safety Order and any regulations made under article 24 as relevant, which set out how you ensure fire safety throughout your premises including a requirement to complete a fire risk assessment.
You must record the significant findings of this risk assessment including measures that have been or will be taken and any groups of persons identified by the assessment as being especially at risk if:
· you have 5 or more employees
· there is a license under an enactment in relation to the premises (for example, an alcohol licence)
· there is an alterations notice in place in relation to the premises requiring this
Examples of actions you should take include but are not limited to:
· minimize the risk of a fire occurring, and take steps to make sure that if a fire starts, it can’t spread through the building
· make sure escape routes are available and that any emergency exit doors are not locked and can be quickly and easily opened without needing a key
· where a door is shut for security purposes (such as in the stockroom of a shop), make sure this can be easily opened from the inside by installing push bar devices – these should not be blocked or obstructed
· make sure there is a way to detect fires and that this raises an alarm to alert everyone to evacuate – in larger premises where fires can start undetected by a person, this should be an automatic detection and warning system (in very small premises such as corner shops with a small office or stockroom on the same level, it is possible that this could be achieved through the shout of ‘fire’, but only if there is no way that a fire can develop without being identified by a person)
· in a workplace, train staff on what to do if a fire happens
· in a residential building, tell the residents what the fire safety measures and evacuation strategy are
· co-operate and co-ordinate with other Responsible Persons where there is more than one (such as a shopping centre or a residential building on top of an office or a shop) – this will help make sure that any risks don’t affect each person’s remit
· check that shared escape routes are always clear for example by making sure a shop does not block the escape routes from a residential building when there is a delivery of stock
Duty Holders are responsible for complying with the Fire Safety Order to the extent of their obligation. Your responsibilities will depend on the circumstances and level of control you have over the premises. Contracts and tenancy agreements may set out to detail these responsibilities, but you should check this.
Duty Holders may include, but are not restricted to:
· a fire risk assessor – where the Responsible Person chooses to contract the services of a specialist to undertake the risk assessment on their behalf
· a fire alarm engineer
Fire risk assessors or other fire safety professionals (such as where an intrusive survey is required) may be employed to identify the safety measures required through a fire risk assessment to keep people safe in the event of a fire.
Fire alarm engineers are appointed to maintain, and if necessary, repair a key component of the fire safety measures for the premises.
These are examples only and other areas may be identified as requiring work to improve or maintain fire safety measures.
There will be other circumstances where you could be a Duty Holder depending on what is in your control which may be set out in your contract or tenancy agreement. You are deemed to have some control over the premises where this agreement obliges you to undertake maintenance or repairs.
As an employee, you should follow fire safety measures put in place and cooperate with your employer to help them comply with their duties.
If you identify something dangerous, you must let your employer know.
You must not interfere with any measures put in place, for example, removing fire extinguishers from their brackets, propping open fire doors or placing covers over fire detection equipment.
Understand the legislation
The Fire Safety Order is the fire safety legislation in England and Wales. It regulates premises and sets out responsibilities for individuals subject to the Fire Safety Order.
The Fire Safety Order places the duty to keep people safe from fire upon the Responsible Person. The Responsible Person is a legally created entity, as defined in Article 3 of The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
The Responsible Person must carry out an assessment of the fire risks to people on the premises or within its vicinity (these are described as ‘relevant persons’ in the order). The fire risk assessment helps identify the fire safety precautions the Responsible Person must take to comply with the Fire Safety Order.
The Fire Safety Order applies to:
· all workplaces and commercial buildings
· non-domestic parts of multi-occupied residential buildings – this includes those areas clarified by the Fire Safety Act
· external walls
· flat front doors
Check if you are the Responsible Person in a workplace
A workplace means any premises or parts of premises used by an employer and made available to their employees as a place of work. It includes but may not be limited to:
· lobby areas
You are the Responsible Person if:
You are the employer and the workplace is to any extent under your control, for example:
· you run the company
· it is a family-owned business
· you are self-employed
You may be the Responsible Person if:
1. You are not the employer but have some degree of control over the premises (where there isn’t a traditional employer / employee relationship or where volunteers are involved), for example:
· village hall
· scout hut
· charity shop
· place of worship
2. You own commercial premises and it is not legal under someone else’s control, for example, it is derelict.
If these examples describe your role, you are the Responsible Person.
Check if you are the Responsible Person in a residential premises
You are the Responsible Person if:
· you own the building (only in relation to the non-domestic parts)
· you have control over the premises
If these examples describe your role, you are the Responsible Person.
Check if you are a Duty Holder
If you have confirmed you are not the Responsible Person you may still be a Duty Holder with some responsibilities under the Fire Safety Order if you have some control within the premises.
You are considered to have control of a premises if you are subject to a contract or tenancy that makes you responsible for:
· the maintenance or repair of the premises themselves or anything in or on them
· the safety of the premises
Examples of Duty Holders may include but are not limited to:
Shared premises are likely to have more than one Responsible Person and/or Duty Holder.
For non-domestic parts of the premises, the Responsible Person could be the landlord, freeholder or managing agent.
If you are a Responsible Person and/or Duty Holder of a shared premises, you will need to co-operate and co-ordinate with the other Responsible Persons / Duty Holders to comply with the requirements of the Fire Safety Order, for example by informing each other of fire safety risks.
A fire risk assessment:
· reviews premises to identify any areas where a fire might start
· makes recommendations to reduce the likelihood of fire and to keep people safe when a fire happens
· identifies the fire safety measures that you need to take to make the premises safe for employees or residents, as well as other ‘relevant persons’
A relevant person is someone who is lawfully allowed to be on the premises, and those in the vicinity of the premises (including outside) who may be at risk from a fire in the building.
You can either do the risk assessment yourself, if you feel you are competent to do so, or you can get a competent person to do it for you. If you get someone to do it, it is recommended that you choose a person with Third Party Certification. Even where you have someone complete it for you, as the Responsible Person, you are legally responsible for the fire risk assessment.
You, or the competent person you appoint, should regularly review the fire risk assessment and update it if there have been any significant alterations to the building, processes or equipment, or where you believe that it is no longer valid. It is recommended that you review the risk assessment regularly.
In workplaces – tell staff about the risks
Where you employ 5 or more people, you must record your significant findings.
You need to:
· plan for an emergency
· provide staff with information, fire safety instruction and training
· listen, acknowledge and where appropriate act upon information provided by others about fire safety concerns, for example staff or customers
If you need more advice, your local Fire and Rescue Service can help you determine exactly what you need to do to keep people safe.
Read more about the role and responsibilities of Responsible Persons.
Duty Holder responsibilities
As a Duty Holder you may have some responsibilities for fire safety. Your duties may depend on the terms of any contract or lease.
Read more about the role and responsibilities of Duty Holders.
Employees and residents
Employees and residents should:
· comply with any fire safety measures that have been put in place and not interfere with these
· report any fire safety defects to the Responsible Person, or their on-site representative (such as the workplace manager or the management agent in a residential building)
Penalties and enforcement
If you are a Responsible Person or Duty Holder and breach the Fire Safety Order, you may be subject to an enforcement notice or prosecution.
Local fire and rescue authorities may inspect premises and can issue enforcement notices telling you about changes you need to make. Prohibition notices may also be issued which prohibit or restrict the use of your premises.