16th Apr 2007 - 00:00
Question: "I'm about to open a 50-seater restaurant and I've heard there's been a change to the fire safety legislation. What do I need to know?"
Answer: From David Bashford, director of consulting services, Food Alert The law relating to fire safety in England and Wales changed on 1 October 2006 with the introduction of The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. The new legislation places the emphasis towards risk reduction and fire prevention by the responsible person in the restaurant and away from the Fire Brigade. Accordingly, Fire Certificates will no longer be issued by the Fire Brigade. Responsibility for complying with the Fire Safety Order rests with the "responsible person". In a workplace, this is the employer and any other person who may have control of any part of the premises, for example, the occupier or owner. If you are the "responsible person" you must carry out/arrange for a fire risk assessment to be carried out. Your fire risk assessment will help you identify risks that can be removed or reduced, assess current management controls and the general fire precautions provided to protect people against the fire risks that remain. The fire risk assessment should document the following details: If you have already carried out a fire risk assessment, you may need to review it as the new fire legislation widens the scope of the assessment and will now include property safety, fire fighter safety and the environment around the site as well as just protecting life. This could mean, for example, that allowing a building to be sacrificed is now unacceptable due to the risk to neighbouring buildings and fire fighters. Who carries out the fire risk assessment will depend upon the risk associated with the business? In low-risk premises (eg a small office) it can be done by the company's responsible person using checklists that are available on the Internet. If, however, the premises poses a medium risk (restaurant) or high risk (sleeping accommodation) then it maybe wise to consider utilising outside help from an experienced fire risk assessor. The fire risk assessor need not possess any specific academic qualifications but should: A good way of evaluating the assessor is to establish if they are on the Institution of Fire Officers approved Fire Risk Assesssors list. Finally, remember that once you have completed the fire risk assessment, you must implement and record the actions that you take. Having one without the other leaves your business open to fire risk and its consequences. Weblink: www.foodalert.com Disclaimer: This document reflects the law and practice. It is general in nature, and does not purport in any way to be comprehensive or a substitute for specialist legal advice in individual circumstances.