The new Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order is scheduled to come into force on 1 October 2006. The reforms aim to improve fire safety by making it the responsibility of the employer or 'responsible person', who will be required to assess the risks of fire and take steps to reduce or remove them. Under the reforms, which also replace the 1971 Fire Prevention Act, businesses will no longer need a fire certificate – although fire and rescue authorities will still continue to inspect premises and ensure adequate fire precautions are in place.
The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) has published free general guidance on the reforms, entitled ‘A Short Guide to Making Your Premises Safe From Fire’. This emphasises that the fire risk assessment should pay particular attention to those at special risk, such as people who work alone or in isolated areas, children, parents with babies and disabled people. It must include consideration of any dangerous substance likely to be on the premises. Businesses employing five or more people must record the significant findings of the assessment. The guidance can be ordered or downloaded from http://www.odpm.gov.uk/index.asp?id=1500383