Fire safety law - what you need to do

Fire safety law helps to keep people safe, reduce the likelihood of fire and make sure people can escape safely in the event of a fire.

Check you know what you need to do to comply with the law and keep your business safe.
 

Who's responsible 

The law places the responsibility for fire safety on the ‘responsible person’. 

You are a ‘responsible person’ if you’re:

  • an employer
  • an owner
  • a landlord
  • an occupier
  • in control of a premises. For example, premises occupied by someone self-employed, family-run businesses, places of worship, and voluntary organisations.

You may also be responsible for fire safety if you are the building manager, managing agent, or fire risk assessor.

There may be several 'responsible persons' if you share a building with other occupiers and/or businesses. See our guidance on fire safety in shared premises.

Your responsibilities 

To comply with the law, you need to: 

  • carry out a fire risk assessment of the premises and review it regularly (we recommend at least once a year)
  • put in place appropriate fire safety measures and maintain them
  • ensure those on the premises know what to do in the event of a fire or on hearing an alarm 
  • provide staff with information, instruction and training.

The government has published a lot of simple guidance documents to help you. You can download them for free at gov.uk.

What’s covered by fire safety law

The Fire Safety Order applies to almost all premises, buildings, places and structures, where people work, visit or stay. For example, it applies to:

  • offices and shops
  • factories, warehouses, garages, and industrial units
  • care homes, dentists, and healthcare clinics
  • nurseries, schools and daycare centres 
  • pubs, cafes, restaurants, and clubs
  • village halls, community centres, and places of worship
  • museums, libraries, exhibition and conference centres
  • marquees, festivals, county fairs & village fetes, theatres, cinemas, and open-air concerts
  • hotels, B&Bs, guest houses, boarding schools, holiday lets, staff accommodation, and campsites
  • common areas of multi-occupied residential buildings. For example blocks of flats and houses of multiple occupation (HMO). See our advice for landlords and letting agents

Fire safety law applies if anyone pays to stay in your property, other than to live there as a permanent home. It applies whether you rent out one room or the whole house and whether guests stay for one night or much longer. 

Any premises which are rented or hired by people e.g. wedding or party venues will need to comply with fire safety law. 

It does not apply to individual private homes (including flats and mobile homes) where people live. This includes second homes and caravans if they are for your own private use.

The law 

The fire safety law for England and Wales is The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. It is also known as the Fire Safety Order (FSO) and The Order.
These pages cover the basic guidelines for what's covered - for more information you can read the Fire Safety Order

Penalties 

If you do not comply with the requirements of the Fire Safety Order, you could be fined and/or go to prison.  

We are committed to making our communities safer places to live, work, or visit. We know that most businesses in Devon and Somerset take their responsibilities seriously. However, those that decide to place people at unnecessary risk will be subject to appropriate enforcement action. Learn more about how we enforce the the law.
 

Common questions

Do I still need a fire certificate?

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No, and any fire certificate issued under the Fire Precautions Act 1971 has ceased to have any effect. See our section on fire safety law and how it applies to you for information on what you need to do.

 

I'm having building work done - what do I need to do?

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If you're having building work done you will need to consider the fire risks this may have on your premises and anything you need to put in place to reduce the risk. Read our guidance on managing fire safety during building works

When building new premises or doing building work on existing premises, you must comply with building regulations. This includes designing fire safety into the proposed building or extension.

If you have a query about your building regulations application or the process, you should contact your local authority building control officer or an approved inspector.