Fire safety for Business and Premises Owners

08-03-2018


fire-safety-law

If you are a business owner, or the owner of non-domestic premises in Northern Ireland, you should be aware of the changes to the fire safety regulations which came into effect in November 2010. But just in case you need it, here’s a quick recap of the changes and what you need to know.

What are the legal requirements for Northern Ireland business owners and premises owners under the Fire Safety Regulations (NI) 2010?

The Fire Services (Northern Ireland) Order 1984 was repealed on 15 November 2010 and the previous fire certification process ceased. Part 3 of the Fire and Rescue Services (Northern Ireland) Order 2006, and The Fire Safety Regulations (NI) 2010 Order came into effect on 15 November 2010.

Fundamentally, the change means the onus of responsibility has now shifted from the fire authority, who previously issued a certificate of compliance for the premises, to the business or premises owner – now called the “responsible person”.

However, you may be neither the business owner nor the premises owner, but may still be deemed responsible for the fire safety of the premises if you have a “degree of control” over the premises (i.e. you are deemed the “appropriate person”).

If you are either the responsible person or the appropriate person, you must take reasonable steps to:

  • Reduce the risk from fire
  • Ensure people are able to escape safely if there is a fire.

How can I ensure compliance if I am either the responsible person or the appropriate person?

The first step is to undertake regular fire risk assessments, or better still, appoint a qualified Fire Risk Assessor to do so. You should ask for evidence of the certification of the Fire Risk Assessor prior to their appointment.

The Fire Risk Assessor you appoint will conduct an inspection of your site and provide a written report of recommendations. It is important to be able to produce this report if requested by NIFRS, as well as evidence of progress made on the recommendations.

A vital measure in ensuring the fire safety of your premises is appointing a competent, third party accredited, specialist alarm company to install and maintain an adequate fire detection and alarm system. Emergency Lighting may also be required for your premises, and this should also be maintained by a competent party. NIFRS may ask for maintenance records, as evidence of regular servicing of these systems, so it’s important to keep these on file with your Fire Risk Assessment.

Who enforces the law in Northern Ireland?

The law will be enforced in Northern Ireland by the NI Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS), for the majority of premises.  NIFRS will visit premises at random to ensure compliance with Fire Safety legislation, and may issue fines, prohibition notices, or even prosecutions, for non-compliance. The NIFRS publish a public register of prohibition, enforcement and alterations notices and this can be viewed online at https://www.nifrs.org/firesafe/register.php.

A useful booklet on changes to the law in Northern Ireland, can also be found at: https://www.nifrs.org/firesafe/downloads/NIFRS_Fire_Legislation_15_Nov.pdf.

Contact us if we can help meet your legal obligations for fire safety.

Fire safety for Business and Premises Owners