Non-Domestic Landlords – What you need to know about Fire Risk Assessments
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 made it a legal requirement for all non-domestic premises to carry current and regularly reviewed Fire Risk Assessments. In practice this applies to:
- Commercial and Public Premises e.g. Shops, Factories, Warehouses and Offices
- Nursing Homes
- Sheltered Housing
- Communal areas in Blocks of Flats
- Homes of Multiple Occupation
The requirement states:
9.—(1) The responsible person must make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks to which relevant persons are exposed for the purpose of identifying the general fire precautions he needs to take to comply with the requirements and prohibitions imposed on him by or under this Order.
As a landlord it is your responsibility to comply with this requirement.
For the purposes of carrying out Risk Assessments, whilst these can be done by a professional organisation, it is acceptable for you to undertake them yourself providing you meet the ‘reasonable person’ test. In this case a ‘reasonable person’ is clarified as someone who has enough training and can make sound judgements in respect of any element which may contribute to the risk of fire.
So, what should you consider when carrying out Fire Risk Assessments? Here are a few things you need to bear in mind although it should be noted this is not an exhaustive list:
- Any fire risk assessments and fire detection systems – are they maintained and in full working order?
- Emergency exits and routes – are they clear, well signposted, accessible, free from congestion?
- Fire extinguishers – are they correctly sighted, adequately maintained, is everyone trained in using them?
- Is adequate training and information available to all premise’s occupants?
- Has there been any change in occupation since the last assessment?
- Are there any hazardous materials/compounds on site? What are the storage arrangements?
- If your business has more than five employees, it is also a requirement that you document your Risk Assessments in writing.
- Although you do not need written documentation if your business employs less than 5 people, it is still considered good practice to be able to provide formal proof that you are carrying out your Risks Assessment.
Should you fail to comply with this requirement the potential punishment can be substantial: a prison sentence of up to two years along with an unlimited fine.
Fires can be devastating, and their impact often stretches much further than the physical damage they cause. Ensuring you comply with this requirement is more than just your duty of care as a landlord, it is also your legal obligation.