Who is Responsible for Business Fire Safety?
In an ideal world every member of a company would be responsible for fire safety. Every employee and employer would ensure they were following process and procedure and demonstrating an awareness of the risks that can lead to fires.
In reality, it is probably more likely that the majority of employees are not completely familiar with fire procedures and certainly will not be up to speed on the responsibilities of the ‘responsible’ person as detailed in the Regulatory Reform Fire Safety Order 2005.
In terms of the official definitions, the person responsible for fire safety in a business could be any of the following:
- Facilities manager
- Building manager
It needs to be an individual who is in a position to not only appreciate what processes and procedures need to be in place and how they can be incorporated into that company’s particular infrastructure, but has the authority to action these requirements and ensure compliance.
Ideally a company would appoint a ‘responsible’ person based on who would be best for the role and who has the capacity to do things properly. However it is important to note that if a particular person is not appointed it will default to a person such as the owner or director by virtue of their position. It is also important to note that in the case of shared premises there might be an expectation that the responsibility for fire safety to be shared between the companies concerned.
As the ‘responsible’ person or persons, there are a number of responsibilities that must be recognised. These include:
- Carrying out a fire risk assessment and reviewing it regularly
- Planning for emergencies
- Communicating identified risks with employees
- Putting in place and maintaining appropriate fire safety measures
- Providing employees with correct information, fire safety instruction and training
Not only is it a role that requires a knowledge and understanding of policy, assessments and procedure but it is also a practical role that requires the manual checking of alarms, lighting, doors, signs and extinguishers as well as the organisation and roll out of regular drills.
Companies can be fined if they do not have the correct equipment and procedures in place to deal with fire safety, so it is essential that the ‘responsible’ person is proactive at all times to ensure compliance and the safety of all employees. In order to do this, the ‘responsible’ person must at least be aware that it is THEIR responsibility.
If you are the ‘responsible’ person in your company make sure that everyone knows that even though it is your duty, fire safety is so important that all employees should take responsibility for seeing that vital procedures are followed and understood.