UK Fire Safety Regulations For Small Business Owners

Understand your fire safety responsibility

The Importance of Your Fire Safety Responsibilities

Being a business owner means that it's your responsibility to keep your employees and your premises safe. Fire safety responsibilities include conducting a fire risk assessment, ensuring a fire strategy is in place, installing fire doors, fire alarms, and emergency lighting, supplying fire safety equipment, installing appropriate signage, updating a fire safety log book and undergoing regular fire safety maintenance. Knowing and following your responsibilities is the simplest way to avoid any legal consequences, as well as keeping everyone on the premises safe. If you fail in your duty to comply with UK fire safety regulations, you could face a fine of up to £5,000 or even face a prison term. Knowing and following your responsibilities is the simplest way to protect yourself from legal consequences while keeping your staff and visitors safe on your business premises.

What Are Your Fire Safety Responsibilities

If you own business premises, including offices, retail spaces, or even rented residential accommodation, you are responsible for fire safety on those premises. Your fire safety responsibilities include:

  • Conducting a fire risk assessment to identify and remove fire hazards
  • Ensure that a suitable fire strategy is in place for your premises
  • Installing fire doors, fire alarms, and emergency lighting
  • Supplying appropriate fire safety equipment such as fire extinguishers and sprinkler systems
  • Installing appropriate signage directing occupants to fire equipment and fire exits
  • Carrying out regular fire drills and training
  • Updating a fire safety log book
  • Undergoing a regular fire safety maintenance

Fire Risk Assessments

As a small business owner it is your duty to carry out a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment. When employing 5 or more employees, your fire risk assessment should cover five essential aspects.

  • Identify potential fire hazards
  • Identify people who are at risk
  • Evaluate, remove and reduce these risks
  • Record your as

    Installing Fire Doors, Alarms, and Emergency Lighting

    The UK's fire alarm requirements are outlined in the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, also known as the RRO. This states that all UK businesses must have an appropriate fire detection system installed. While this doesn't mean that all businesses must have a fire alarm installed, in most cases, it is advisable for a fire alarm to be fitted.

    A fire safety company can help you to decide which type and design of fire alarm is suitable for your business premises.

    Fire doors should also be installed in UK business premises. The purpose of an internal fire door is to compartmentalise rooms in a building to prevent the spread of fire and protect an escape route in the event of a fire. An external fire door should be placed at the end of such an escape route. Fire doors in non-domestic buildings must be fitted to provide an adequate evacuation route from any floor of the building, usually via the stairs. The FD rating of fire doors should be decided only after an individual assessment of the building. More about fire doors can be found in the Building Regulations Part B Appendix C. The British Standard 5266 Emergency Lighting code of conduct also outlines the requirements that UK businesses must meet for emergency lighting, stating that all UK businesses must provide adequate emergency lighting. Emergency lighting should light stairways and escalators, fire escape routes and exits, fire doors, first aid stations, fire extinguishers, and alarms, as well as lifts and heavy machinery.

    Supplying Fire Safety Equipment

    As a small business owner, it is also your responsibility to supply fire safety equipment in your business. Fire safety regulations in the UK recommend that you have at least 2 ‘Class A’ extinguishers on every storey of the building. All premises with electrical equipment must have suitable extinguishers for use on electricity, while premises with 415 volt-rated equipment will require specialised extinguishers . Fire consultants, such as Arion, can help to advise on the most suitable extinguishers for the premises. As a standard practice, fire extinguishers should be placed near fire alarm call points and fire exits. You should also follow the 30-metre rule, which states that nobody in your building should be further than 30 metres from a fire extinguisher at any time.

    Installing Appropriate Signage

    It's important to install appropriate signage to highlight fire safety exits, fire extinguishers, and support the fire evacuation protocol. The key signs you should install throughout your property are:

    • Illuminated Fire Exit signs above fire exits
    • Fire Action Notices, which contain details of what to do in the event of a fire
    • A Fire Extinguisher ID sign display


      Carrying Our Regular Fire Drills and Training

      Fire drills and fire safety training are essential in making sure that your staff members know what to do in the event of a fire. You are legally required to carry out at least one fire drill a year at any place of employment, though the HSE also recommends that fire drills are carried out a few times each year. It is important to carry them out to ensure you have enough fire wardens in place, with proper training to help guide employees out of the building during a drill.

      The number of fire wardens your business needs will depend upon the property's risk level. Low risk properties should have one fire warden for every 50 people, while medium and high-risk properties should have one fire warden for every 20 and 15 people respectively. Training should also be provided to all staff members, covering what to do in the event of a fire and ensuring that all staff members know where the nearest fire escape routes and fire exits are across the building. Fire wardens should be trained in more advanced fire safety skills, including legislation, fire prevention, extinguisher use, and emergency procedures.

      Updating a Fire Safety Logbook and Fire Policy

      As a business owner, it's also your duty to keep up-to-date fire safety records, available on-site for inspection by the fire authority. These documents should include fire strategy documents and a fire policy, which should detail the features of your building and how they relate to fire safety, as well as your fire emergency plain the event of a fire. It should also record all fire safety protection measures that you have installed including fire doors, extinguishers, and more.

      You should also keep a fire safety logbook that details exactly when equipment is tested, fire drills are carried out, and staff training is delivered. This logbook proves your compliance with UK regulations, and it will help you to keep track of when your next drills, equipment checks, and training sessions are due to be scheduled. These documents serve to show that you understand your building and its facilities and are committed to maintaining high standards of fire safety throughout your business's premises. They may be kept in a digital format but must remain easily available for inspection as above.

      Undergoing Regular Fire Safety Maintenance

      Once you have fulfilled your duties towards providing adequate fire safety in your business, it's important to spend time maintaining these high standards of fire safety. Prepare a maintenance plan which includes schedules for regular fire safety equipment checks and renewed fire safety risk assessments to ensure that your property meets UK safety regulations in the future.

      Additional Resources

      Fire Safety Risk Assessment Guidance

      HSE Fire Safety Toolbox

      The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005

      To know more about UK fire safety regulations and how you can take steps to improve your business's fire safety, contact us today to speak to our fire safety experts at Arion Ltd.



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