Legislation & Your Responsibilities
Fire Precautions Act 1971
Like most health and safety legislation, fire safety legislation was brought about after a number of significant fires involving the workplace. These incidents led to the introduction of the Fire Precautions Act 1971. This legislation was based on the number of people at work at a premises and if the criteria were met, then a fire certificate would be issued by the Local Fire Authority. This meant that the Fire Service would inform businesses what was required and the businesses then had to comply.
Over the years, prosecutions were very rare but the cost to business was significant, businesses lobbied the Government for change. As a result, the Government introduced The Regulatory Reform (Fire) Safety Order 2005, which made business responsible for fire safety and requires a fire risk assessment to be undertaken.
The Regulatory Reform (Fire) Safety Order 2005 is based on guidance and opinion. If you have to provide fire safety precautions at your workplace and feel this is excessive and costly, then the right advice can save you time, resources and costs. HFR Solutions CIC is best placed to support your business and provide that advice and support your organisation’s requirements.
Are you the Responsible Person tasked with carrying out Fire Risk Assessments at your organisation?
The law requires the Responsible Person to ensure premises are safe from any risk of fire. If the Responsible Person is found wanting and it is deemed there is a serious risk to life and it satisfies the evidential and public interest test, the Fire Service will consider prosecution. Any prosecution carries an unlimited fine and a maximum of 10 years imprisonment.
Due to the challenges of running a business it is possible that your premises and working practices do not conform to the Regulatory Reform (Fire) Safety Order 2005. As the Responsible Person, it is your responsibility.
The definition of the Responsible Person
This could be one of the following:
1st The employer
2nd Person in control of the premises
3rd The proprietor
Over the past few years, several individuals who have conducted their own fire risk assessment or have had one produced by an external partner have been prosecuted for an unsuitable fire risk assessment. In these cases, individuals have received either a custodial or suspended sentence.
Self-compliance resulted in an increase in prosecutions
The government are currently counteracting this by introducing a competency framework, which will ensure that fire risk assessors can be identified by a recognised qualification within the competency framework.
Since the inception of the Regulatory Reform (Fire) Safety Order 2005 sentencing has been increased, reflecting the level of importance that the government is placing on keeping people safe from fire.
In March 2015, the Government changed the sentencing criteria for offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire) Safety Order 2005. A trial taking place in either a magistrates’ court or the Crown Court now carries an unlimited fine and a maximum of 10 years in prison. Previously, this was a maximum of two years and a £5,000 fine per article.
The Government is taking non-compliance more seriously
The increase in the length of a sentence and expecting cases to be tried in a magistrates’ court, will free up Crown Court time. This is a clear indication from the Government to reinforce what is expected of the Responsible Person and the duties they are expected to undertake.
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