Workplace fire safety requirements

The Fire Safety Regulatory Reform Order 2005 (Fire Safety RRO 2005): The order has replaced over 100 separate pieces of legislation, but in particular the Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations and the Fire Precautions Act.

The order applies to all workplaces and places where people resort, such as:

  • factories
  • offices
  • shops
  • warehouses
  • schools and other educational establishments
  • places where people sleep (hotels, boarding houses, houses in multiple occupation, residential care homes, common parts of residential flats)
  • churches
  • places of assembly and outdoor events

The main requirements of the Fire Safety Regulatory Reform Order 2005

  • Fire safety hazards in the workplace (such as the use and storage of highly flammable liquids)
  • Identify the persons who may be placed at risk (staff, visitors, contractors) especially those who may be placed at additional risk because of disability or infirmity
  • The adequacy of structural features (passive protection), for example, fire doors, fire partitions, fire screens and fire-stopping
  • The adequacy of active systems such as fire alarms, automatic fire detection, fire sprinklers and emergency lighting
  • Provision and maintenance of the means of fighting fire (hose reels, hand held extinguishers
  • Adequacy of the procedural systems in place (fire evacuation emergency plan / procedure)
  • Maintenance of passive and active systems, conducting of fire drills and the keeping of records
  • Regular monitoring, audit and review processes to ensure that standards are being maintained

The assessment should then go on to assess the adequacy of existing controls and decide whether additional steps need to be taken to eliminate or reduce risk. The assessment must be recorded in writing, or stored electronically and kept retrievable.

Where employers do not have access to the entire building

If the workplace is shared with other persons, they should be informed of any significant risks identified. The person who has control, to any extent, has a responsibility to make sure the regulations are complied with, in the parts they control. This may require communication and co-operation between all parties to ensure co-ordination of fire safety provisions, fire-fighting measures, evacuation procedures.

Advice and information

If further practical advice or information is required following completion of the Risk Assessment, the Fire Brigade may be able to assist. Any advice given is usually free of charge and impartial.

Information regarding managing process risks and highly flammable materials is available from your local HSE Office website: http://www.hse.gov.uk/ or via the following telephone number 020 7556 2100.

Advice on reducing the risk of arson may be obtained from the Arson Prevention Bureau on 020 7216 7522. General advice on the regulations can be obtained from the enforcing authority. Contact the London Fire Brigade Tower Hamlets Fire Safety Team on 020 7587 2945.

For further information, contact:

Corporate Health & Safety and Civil Protection Unit
3rd Floor, Anchorage House
2 Clove Crescent
London, E14 2BE

Tel: 020 7364 4171 (office hours only)
Out of office hours, contact the Tower Hamlets council call centre: 0207 364 7070.

Automatic fire alarms: keeping false alarms to a minimum

The safety of your building and the people in it can be greatly enhanced by getting an automatic fire alarm.

If used properly and maintained, the automatic fire alarm with its fast response time can assist in the Fire Brigade being called in the early stages of a fire. This will also reduce the risk to life and help limit the damage to your property, in the event of a fire.

Unfortunately, the same features that provide this fast response can also produce false alarms, costing the Fire Service and your building valuable time and resources.

General rules

Many unwanted false alarms are the result of ignorance on the part of employees or contractors who may not be aware that an automatic fire system is in operation.

A few simple rules coupled with normal good housekeeping can help to keep these unwanted nuisance signals to a minimum.

Rule 1 - Staff and contractors should be told about the automatic detection system. There should be a permanent notice at all entrances to areas equipped with automatic fire detection with this notice:

"This area is protected by automatic fire detectors. Before undertaking any work involving heat, smoke, flame or sparks, please obtain clearance to proceed from the Plant Manager or Security Officer."

Rule 2 - Staff or visiting contractors need to be instructed that no activity, generating heat, smoke, flame or sparks should be undertaken without prior authorisation from the Fire Safety Officer or other member of the managerial staff.

This information should be incorporated into staff contracts and operating manuals. Contracts for subcontractors should include a clause requiring them to acknowledge in writing, their responsibility for ensuring that their on-site staff follow the rules.

Rule 3 - No renovation work involving the generation of dust or paint spray is to be carried out in any area protected by automatic smoke detectors, unless proper precautions have been taken to protect the automatic fire detectors against the entry of dust.

  • Beware: the operation of detectors covered with plastic or paper covers will be impaired, if not disabled, by this action. Alternative manual surveillance must be instituted.
  • A named, senior member of the occupiers staff should be made responsible for ensuring that the covers are removed and the system reinstated, as soon as all residual dust has been removed.
  • An operational test of the system by a qualified person is recommended, following any redecorating or building work in a protected area.

If you follow these guidelines, the Fire Service will have more time to allocate to essential duties, it may also help save you from the permanent loss of business – so frequently associated with a major fire.

Further advice can be obtained from the London Fire Brigade Eastern Command Fire Safety Team. Tel: 0207 587 2945 http://www.london-fire.gov.uk/

Contact details

Email: peter.leigh@towerhamlets.gov.uk
Tel: 0207 364 4171 (office hours only)
Fax: 0207 364 4191
Out of Office Hours: Tower Hamlets Council call centre 0207 364 7070.