Fire safety law for small business owners

If you are running a small business, whether you realise it or not you have clearly defined responsibilities under UK law. Failure to understand and comply could lead to prosecution, so we believe it’s important for you to spend a few minutes reading this article and then to take action where necessary.

Fire safety legislation in the UK is defined and managed slightly differently in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland but we will consider them in this article as one as they are largely the same. To get an absolute definition for your particular area, we suggest going to the relevant authority.

What type of premises and building does the Fire Safety law apply to?

In simple terms, the Fire Safety law applies to all premises, covering almost all types of building and structure and open space.

Who is responsible for fire safety in a small business?

Ultimately the person responsible for fire safety is the business owner. This can be seen as:
– anyone who owns the premises
– anyone who has control over the premises
– anyone who controls the activities on the premises
– anyone who employs people that work on the premises

The people above whether they realise it or not are responsible for fire safety for anyone who is legitimately on the premises. Additionally, they are also responsible for people who are not actually on the premises but might be affected by a fire on the premises.

What should small business owners do to minimise fire risk?

To ensure everyone you are responsible for is safely protected from fire risk, you must carry out a fire-risk assessment to work out what risks exist in your business. Once you have identified those, you should implement measures to minimise the risk to an acceptable level. You ought to document the procedure undertaken and also what measures have been implemented and store a copy of this document for safe keeping away from you premises.

Who Enforces fire law in the UK?

Local fire authorities carry out investigations after fires happen and will carry out specific target inspections. If poor fire safety measures are discovered, the authorities may prosecute, especially if there is a risk to life. If such a risk exists, the authority can issue a notice preventing all or part of a premises from being used. Or they can stop the premises from being used for specific activities relating to that business.

Local fire authorities also look into complaints made by employees or anyone else and will act accordingly on their findings.

Fire certificates and associated old legislation

Previous UK law required local authorities and or Fire Brigades to issue a fire certificate for certain types of premises. Today, previously issues certificates have no legal standing but they could be used in helping you refresh your current fire safety risk. The message here is clear, don’t throw the certificates and associated documentation away as they could be useful in the future.

What next?

If you need help with carrying out a fire risk assessment or implementing measures to mitigate known areas of fire risk, please contact us as we offer a competitively priced service that will help you manage that risk.

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