Legislation covering Fire Safety in the U.K. went through a dramatic change. The Fire Precautions Act 1971 and the Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations 1997 were repealed, along with many other fire safety regulations embedded in other statutes, such as that for Residential Care Homes and Licensed premises etc etc. Fire certificates will be scrapped, and employers will become solely responsible for fire safety within their workplaces.
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 become law in October 2006. The new regulations are largely based on the Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations, and the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmosphere Regulations (DSEAR). The regulations will apply to all workplaces/premises, and will also apply to the self employed, with only a few minor exceptions.
The fire risk assessment element of the Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations will remain, and additional duties will be imposed, such as:
The duty to prevent fire spread;
A duty to maintain Building Regulation standards for the use and protection of the fire service;
A duty to appoint one or more employees to assist in ensuring compliance with the regulations (such as a fire marshal);
The purpose of fire fire fighting equipment is clarified, in that it is there to enable a small fire to be attacked to prevent it spreading.
There will be a duty to appoint a named responsible person, who will normally be the employer. Like the Health & Safety at Work Act, it will be up to the responsible person to demonstrate that they did everything 'reasonably practicable' to prevent injury, and there will be a civil liability if a breach of duty causes harm.
The fire service role will be that of enforcement similar to the HSE for general health & safety matters.
Insurance companies will no doubt include clauses to ensure their clients are complying with the law, with obvious connotations where there is a lack of compliance ie. they may refuse to pay some or all of an insurance claim. Many insurers are already insisting on the installation of sprinklers, which would be the obvious way to prevent fire spread.
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