Who is responsible for carrying out a fire risk assessment?

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (RRO) states that almost all types of premises – unless a single domestic dwelling – must be subject to a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment. It is the duty of the ‘Responsible Person’ (with some degree of responsibility for fire safety) to take general fire precautions as far as reasonably practicable under the RRO Part 2 to ensure the premises is safe for all relevant persons and to reduce the risk of harm and prevent fire as well as ensure fire safety.

The ‘Relevant Persons’ are defined in the RRO Part 1 Article 2 as:

  • Any person (including the Responsible Person) who is or may be lawfully on the premises.
  • Any person in the immediate vicinity of the premises who is at risk from a fire on the premises but does not include a fire-fighter who is carrying out his duties in relation to a function of a fire and rescue authority under section 7, 8 or 9 of the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004.

The ‘Responsible Person’ is defined in the RRO Part 1 Article 3 as:

  • In relation to a workplace, the employer, if the workplace is to any extend under their control;
  • In relation to any premises not falling within the above;
    • The person who has control of the premises (as occupier or otherwise) in connection with the carrying on by a trade, business or other undertaking.
    • The owner, where the person in control of the premises does not have control in connection with the carrying on by that person of a trade, business or other undertaking.

To summarise, a ‘Responsible Person’ could be the employer, owner, landlord or appointed managing agent of the premises. In some buildings there may be more than one Responsible Person which share or have duties in respect of the premises to make people safe.

The 4 types of fire risk assessment

The RRO does not expand on how intrusive a fire safety risk assessment should be. When it comes to creating a fire risk assessment for residential properties only, there are 4 different ‘types’ defined as endorsed by the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) ‘Fire Safety in Purpose Built Blocks of Flats’, issued by the Local Government Association in 2012.

  • Type 1 Fire Risk Assessments are the most common type and is a non-destructive assessment of the common areas of the building only and does not include access to the private dwellings. In some instances, it may be requested by the client to inspect the front door of the private dwellings as part of the assessment.
  • Type 2 Fire Risk Assessments are similar to Type 1 assessments of the common areas of the buildings only. Type 2 assessments should only be carried out if there is good reason to believe the structural compartmentation is flawed as this involves a contractor sampling the construction, carrying out any fire stopping afterwards.
  • Type 3 Fire Risk Assessments are non-destructive assessments which cover beyond the requirements of legislation and consider the individual dwellings in addition to the common parts.
  • Type 4 Fire Risk Assessments are similar to Type 3 assessments in the individual dwellings and common parts. Like Type 2, Type 4 assessments should only be carried out if there is good reason to believe the structural compartmentation in both the common areas and individual dwellings are flawed and will again involve a contractor sampling the construction in the areas in question.

It is important to stress, the above types ONLY apply to domestic dwellings and not commercial properties. If the existing compartmentation is insufficient and as a result people are at risk, the emergency plan for the premises should be reviewed by a competent person.

You can find out more about our fire risk assessment services here.

DSEAR risk assessments

Similar to fire risk assessments, the RRO Schedule 1 Parts 1 and 4 Articles 9 and 12 states that where dangerous substances are held on site, the ‘Responsible Person’ must apply measures to control the risks they pose. The Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations (DSEAR) 2002 provides advice on best practise and is supported by the Approved Code of Practise (ACOP).

The objective of a DSEAR risk assessment is to enhance the safety of occupants through the elimination or by reducing the risks of fire, explosion and other risks relating to dangerous substances and potentially explosive atmospheres.

As of June 2015, gases under pressure and substances which are corrosive to metals are also included under the legislation.

You can find out more about our DSEAR risk assessment services here.

Please be aware that considerable efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained within this article at the time of publication, however any legislative (or other) changes that come into effect after this may render the information out of date until it is reviewed and updated as part of the FPA’s content review cycle.