Fire safety, fire risk assessments and arson defence

31 July 2018

Prevent fires before they happen with help from our fire safety guidance.

Lady in a helmet looking at fire damage

Most fires are preventable with some easy maintenance and simple checks. Fire safety should form part of any risk assessment but there are some more specific steps to take when it comes to preventing fire.

Legal requirements in fire safety

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 applies to non-domestic premises. To comply with the regulations, a responsible person must conduct a comprehensive risk assessment to identify: 

  • Ignition sources 
  • Suitable means of detecting and raising the alarm in the event of a fire 
  • Adequate emergency escape routes and exits 
  • Appropriate type and numbers of fire extinguishers 
  • Correct type and sufficient numbers of fire signs and notices 
  • Provision for the correct maintenance of fire equipment 
  • Suitable provision for the protection of Fire Service personnel 
  • Ensure the occupants receive the appropriate instruction/training in actions to be taken in the event of a fire using evacuation drills 
  • The effect a fire could have on neighbours.

Who is the responsible person in fire safety law?

The responsible person will be one of the following: 
 
  • An employer with control of the workplace 
  • A person with overall management control of a building 
  • An occupier of the premises 
  • The owner of premises if an empty building 
  • The landlord where building is in multi-occupancy. 
The responsible person must appoint one or more competent persons. Where five or more persons are employed, a formal record of any significant findings and remedial measures which have or may need to be taken must be made.
 
You can find full guidance on GOV.UK - fire safety law - guidance for businesses.

Fire safety risk assessments

A fire risk assessment will need to be carried out by the responsible person on a regular basis. Where appropriate, action should be taken to reduce fire risks.
 
To help you get started identifying fire risks you can download our fire safety guidance notes and complete our fire risk assessment checklist below.
 
You can also download a template fire risk assessment for simple workspaces from The Fire Protection Association.

Fire safety in kitchens

For obvious reasons, kitchens often contain more fire hazards than other parts of a building. There are two main ways fires tend to start in kitchens:
 
  • Cooking processes and the equipment associated with them e.g. accidental overheating of cooking fats and oils leading to ignition.
  • Lack of servicing, maintenance and inadequate cleaning of the kitchen/cooking areas and the equipment associated with it e.g. inadequate cleaning regimes for cooking appliances.
 Due to the heightened risk of fire in kitchen spaces, we have created specific guidance to help organisations protect against kitchen fires 

How to protect buildings from arson attack

Checks can be carried out to identify hazards on your premises which may increase the risk of arson:
 
  • Signs of vandalism – these can indicate higher risk of crime in the area.
  • Vulnerable areas around the building - areas undercover or out of clear sight.
  • Fire hazards - items such as waste material, inflammable liquids. 
  • Inadequate security measures – weak locks or jarred windows.
  • Fire or intruder alarms – are vulnerable areas of the property all covered by the system.

By implementing some simple measures organisations can reduce or control arson risks

  • Secure out buildings 
  • Lock away equipment when not in use
  • Clear waste from grounds
  • Empty bins regularly 
  • Lock gates at night
  • Organise routine alarm checks.
An arsonist will find it harder to attack a building where there is potential they will be caught in the act. Security measures such as external lighting and CCTV not only make intruders visible, they act a visual deterrent to anyone looking for an easy target.
 
If a property is occupied it gives less opportunity to potential arsonists. Engage with your local  community and neighbours in nearby properties.  By encouraging them to report anything suspicious to you or the local police you can further reduce the opportunity for those looking to cause damage. 
 
For detailed advice on how to prevent arson, download our arson guidance notes below.