Fire safety advice for businesses
Advice and how to comply with the law.
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Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service is committed to enforcing the fire safety legislation that we are responsible for in a fair, transparent and proportional manner. Wherever possible we aim to provide assistance and guidance to achieve compliance with the legislation and only resort to formal action or prosecution in the most serious cases or where repeated failures have occurred.
For fire safety advice specific to your business please contact us.
How to comply with the law
- The responsibility for ensuring compliance with legislation generally lies with the responsible person, usually the employer or in some cases the owner. For further details responsible person
- The responsible person is required to carry out a Fire Risk Assessment to comply with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. For further details see risk assessment.
- For further information on completing your fire risk assessment download fire safety advice for business premises from the Communities and Local Government website.
Business Fire Safety Awareness Tool
As a new manager of a small business, the fire safety law for the workplace can seem quite daunting. The Business Fire Safety Awareness Tool has been designed to give a fun and interactive experience and at the same time give a general overview of your responsibilities following a fire risk assessment on your premises.
As you work your way around your workplace, collecting the identified issues and making it safer, you will be tested on your general fire safety knowledge.
The Environment and Safety Information Act 1988
This act requires Fire and Rescue Services and local authorities to maintain a register of information concerning the issue of prohibition, alteration and enforcement notices, which must be open to inspection by the public free of charge.
Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service fulfils this statutory duty by inserting notices issued under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 into National Fire Chiefs Council enforcement register. This register can be found online. The Enforcement Register has been moved to a new location. At present historic records have not yet been moved to the new Register.
Fire safety training
Our Commercial Fire Training Unit exists within Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service and has a direct link to Oxfordshire County Council. It delivers a variety of fire safety training in Oxfordshire to a wide range of businesses and institutions.
Business advice in the event of industrial action
Fire Safety Act 2021 and Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022
Fire Safety Act 2021
The Fire Safety Act 2021 (the Act) received Royal Assent on 29 April 2021 and commenced on 16 May 2022. The Act amends the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (the Fire Safety Order).
Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service welcomes the commencement of the Fire Safety Act in England and Wales, and the Regulations in England, as important steps forward in strengthening the Fire Safety Order and improving fire safety.
The Act clarifies that responsible persons for multi-occupied residential buildings must manage and reduce the risk of fire for the structure and external walls of the building, including cladding, balconies and windows, and entrance doors to individual flats that open into common parts.
Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022
The Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 (the Regulations) have been introduced as an important step towards implementing the recommendations of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry Phase 1 report. The Regulations are being introduced under Article 24 of the Fire Safety Order and will come into force on 23 January 2023.
The Regulations apply to England only. The Regulations can be found at on the UK Government website.
You can find out more in our FAQs and where to go for further information.
These new regulations introduce additional requirements on responsible persons, aimed at identifying and communicating fire risk information to those who need to know about the risk. This includes providing residents with fire risk information regarding evacuation procedures in a format they will understand.
There is also a new requirement for the responsible persons to electronically provide the Fire and Rescue Service with up-to-date risk information that will assist them in both planning and responding to an operational incident. This includes providing floor plans, information on external wall construction (when appropriate) and defective critical equipment such as fire lifts (if they are likely to be defective for more than 24 hours).
To facilitate this new requirement, we ask responsible persons to use the forms below to provide this critical information.
Floor plans and building plan
Regulation 6 of the Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 requires Responsible Persons (RPs) of high-rise residential buildings in England to share up-to-date plans of the building with the fire and rescue service. The plans will be used by operational firefighters during an incident and need to be clear, simple and easy to use.
Electronic sharing of plans
The responsible person should send electronic copies of the plans using this form.
Storage of hard copies
The responsible person is also required to provide a copy of the plans inside the premises’ secure information box. The plans should be sized to fit on A3 paper and, where necessary, printed in colour to assist in easy identification of the plan symbols.
To ensure a copy of the plans can remain with the incident commander at all times as well as be used by firefighters inside the building, at least two copies of each plan should be provided inside the secure information box. Recognizing how the plans will be used and the conditions they may be exposed to, plans should be laminated to ensure they remain usable throughout the course of an incident.
Floor plans must show the location of specific equipment as defined by the Regulations. The plans must clearly identify and distinguish between the following:
- Passenger lifts
- Lift for use by firefighters
- Evacuation lifts
- Inlets/outlets for dry-rising mains
- Inlets/outlets for wet-rising mains
- Smoke control systems
- Suppression systems
A plan will need to be prepared for each floor; where floors are identical it is permissible to prepare a single plan providing the floors to which the plans refer to are clearly indicated. However, it is preferred that each floor has a separate plan, regardless of layout, so that the individual flat numbers can be easily identified on each floor.
A separate single-page plan must be provided which shows the building and its immediate surroundings. The building plan will enable firefighters to orientate themselves upon arrival and must provide information on access and key firefighting both inside and outside the building.
The full list of information to be provided on the building plan is defined in the Regulations and includes all of the following:
- the environs of the building;
- details of the use of the building, for example for commercial or residential purposes;
- access for fire and rescue appliances;
- the dimensions of the building;
- information on the number of storeys of the building and the number of basement levels (if any);
- information regarding the presence of maisonettes or scissor-section flats;
- inlets for dry-rising mains;
- inlets for wet-rising mains;
- the location of shut-off controls for any sprinklers;
- access points for the building;
- the location of the secure information box;
- the location of the controls for any smoke control system;
- the location of any firefighting shaft;
- the location of the main stairways in the building;
- the location of the controls for any evacuation alert system.
For further guidance on the preparation and storage of plans, including examples of floor and building plans, refer to The Code of Practice for the Provision of Premises Information Boxes in Residential Buildings from the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC).
What does the Fire Safety Act do?
The Act clarifies that where a building contains 2 or more sets of domestic premises, the Fire Safety Order applies to:
- the building’s structure and external walls (including windows, balconies, cladding, insulation and fixings) and any common parts
- all doors between domestic premises and common parts such as flat entrance doors (or any other relevant door)
The Act provides greater clarity on where the Fire Safety Order applies in multi-occupied residential buildings. Responsible persons must manage and reduce the risk of fire for:
- the structure and external walls of the building, including anything attached to the exterior of those walls, such as cladding, balconies and windows; and
- entrance doors to individual flats that open into common parts.
Why were these changes introduced?
Following the devastating Grenfell Tower Fire in 2017, the Grenfell Tower Inquiry was established. To meet the Inquiry’s Phase 1 recommendations, the Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 (the Regulations) were introduced.
Which parts of the UK do these changes apply to?
The Act applies to England and Wales. However, the Regulations only apply to England.
What is the Fire Risk Assessment Prioritisation Tool?
The PPRU has supported the Home Office Task and Finish Group in the production of a new Fire Risk Assessment Prioritisation Tool (FRAPT).
The FRAPT is an online tool designed to assist responsible persons to develop a strategy to prioritise their buildings to review their fire risk assessments, to ensure they take into account the clarifications outlined in the Act.
The Fire Risk Assessment Priortisdation Tool is available within The Fire Safety commencement prioritisation guidance
This approach is also designed to ensure that competent professionals who have the required skills to assess external walls (such as fire engineers, fire risk assessors, surveyors, or architects) prioritise their resources to buildings identified as high priority.
The Fire Risk Assessment Prioritisation Tool does not constitute a fire risk assessment in itself, nor does it remove the need or requirement for both Fire and Rescue Services and responsible persons to act upon known or suspected risk in all premises.
What do the Fire Safety (England) regulations require responsible persons to do?
Most of the requirements set out in the Regulations are imposed on the responsible person, which responsible persons need to plan and prepare for ahead of the Regulations coming into force.
The regulations require responsible persons in multi-occupied residential buildings to take specific actions, depending on the height of the building:
- some provisions apply regardless of height
- more are needed once a building reaches 11 metres, and
- further requirements are introduced when a building reaches 18 metres (or 7 storeys) or more.
The Regulations set out requirements for responsible persons of all multi-occupied residential buildings, of two or more sets of domestic premises:
- Fire Safety Instructions: they must provide relevant fire safety instructions to their residents on how to report a fire and what a resident must do once a fire has occurred.
- Fire Door Information: provide residents with information relating to the importance of fire doors in fire safety.
The Regulations also set out requirements for responsible persons of multi-occupied residential buildings of over 11 metres in height:
- Annual and quarterly checks fire door: They must undertake best endeavour’s to carry out annual checks of flat entrance doors. They must undertake quarterly checks of all fire doors in the common parts.
The government have produced guidance on fire doors which can be found here
This supplementary guidance has been provided to support Responsible Persons on how to conduct routine checks on fire doors and provide information to residents.
The Regulations for high-rise residential buildings (at least 18m or 7 storeys in height) also require responsible persons to:
- Building Plans: provide their local Fire and Rescue Service with up-to-date building floor plans by electronic means and to place a hard copy of these plans, alongside a single page building plan which identifies key firefighting equipment, in a secure information box on site.
- External Wall Systems: provide to their local Fire and Rescue Service information about the design and materials of a high-rise building’s external wall system and to inform the Fire and Rescue Service of any material changes to these walls. Also, they will be required to provide information in relation to the level of risk that the design and materials of the external wall structure gives rise to and any mitigating steps taken.
- Lifts and other Key Fire-Fighting Equipment: undertake monthly checks on the operation of lifts intended for use by firefighters, and evacuation lifts in their building and check the functionality of other key pieces of firefighting equipment. They will also be required to report any defective lifts or equipment to their local Fire and Rescue Service as soon as possible after detection if the fault cannot be fixed within 24 hours, and to record the outcome of checks and make them available to residents.
- Secure Information Boxes: install and maintain a secure information box in their building. This box must contain the name and contact details of the responsible persons and hard copies of the building floor plans.
- Wayfinding Signage: install signage visible in low light or smoky conditions that identifies flat and floor numbers in the stairwells of relevant buildings.
What do responsible persons need to do now?
Responsible persons need to start planning now to be prepared for the changes. The PPRU is working with the Home Office to support the development of standard templates to assist both responsible persons and Fire and Rescue Services to ensure consistent and useful information is collected and received
Responsible persons are encouraged:
- to begin to use the Fire Risk Assessment Prioritisation Tool (the FRAPT), to start forming their fire risk assessment review prioritisation strategies. Responsible persons should first consider the accompanying guidance. Responsible persons should ensure their reviewed assessments take into account the requirements of the FSO (as amended).
- to consider what steps are necessary to be ready to share additional information with Fire and Rescue Services by 23 January 2023.
- not to begin submitting their information to Fire and Rescue Service at this stage, unless this has already been agreed with your local Fire and Rescue Service.
- The preferred format for how responsible persons provide information to Fire and Rescue Services will be detailed within the Home Office guidance, which is currently being produced. The guidance will be published in 2022 in advance of the Regulations being fully in force on 23 January 202
- to begin preparing to comply with the new Regulations. For example, responsible persons can begin work now on some aspects, e.g., installation of wayfinding signage, and procurement of secure information boxes.
When will the changes take effect?
The FSA commenced on 16 May 2022. This means that responsible persons should now (if they have not already done so) consider when to review their fire risk assessments, to ensure these take account of any risk from the external wall. It is important that responsible persons are directed to and consider the more detailed guidance from the Home Office about when and how to go about this.
A new Fire Risk Assessment Prioritisation Tool has been made available. The prioritisation tool is an online tool designed to support Responsible Persons to develop a prioritisation strategy for updating their fire risk assessments, following commencement. The prioritisation tool can be accessed within The Fire Safety Act commencement guidance,
For the other changes, including the requirements to provide additional information to Fire and Rescue Services, The Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 will come into force on 23 January 2023.
The UK Government will publish guidance to support responsible persons to comply with the new Regulations in the summer 2022, after consultation, and ahead of the Regulations coming into effect.
Where can I find out more information?
You can find out more by visiting the NFCC website.
The Fire Safety (England) Regulations can be found on the UK Government website.
The Home Office has produced a series of fact sheets which provide more detailed information on what the Regulations mean in England: