Business safety

Meeting your legal obligations

It is now no longer the Fire and Rescue Service's duty to make sure that business premises are safe.  Accountability now lies squarely and firmly with 'the responsible person' in all premises other than a single private dwelling.

What do you need to do?

In England and Wales, if you are an employer, owner, landlord or occupier of a business or non-domestic premises, you are responsible for fire safety and therefore known as the 'responsible person'. As the responsible person, there are certain things you must do by law under the Fire Safety Order, which is enforced by your local fire and rescue authority.

For further information on the responsibilities of the responsible person, see the 'fire safety and risk assessment' section on the Business Link website.

Make sure your staff know what do in the event of a fire

Make sure they are familiar with the evacuation drill and escape routes for the building.

  • Test your fire alarm weekly
  • Test your emergency lighting monthly

Carry out a fire risk assessment

Make sure you carry out a continuous fire risk assessment of your building ensuring the following points are followed:

  • Never obstruct sprinkler heads and fire detectors
  • Unsafe storage of waste packaging and pallets is a fire risk
  • Never leave waste containers close to buildings
  • Remove all sources of ignition wherever possible
  • Ensure that flammable liquids are stored safely
  • Make sure that machinery and equipment is maintained

Download the documents below for assistance with completing your risk assessment:

  • Blank Fire Risk Assessment Proforma (Word format 135KB)
  • Fire Risk Assessment (worked example for office premises) (PDF format 463KB)
  • Fire Risk Assessment (worked example for House in Multiple Occupation (HMO)) (PDF format 462KB) 

If you feel, having read the guidance, that you:

  • do not have an appropriate knowledge or understanding of fire safety and the risk to people from fire to comply effectively with the legislative requirements, or;
  • are unable to invest sufficient time and resources to do justice to this important task,

you will need to appoint a specialist to carry out the risk assessment for you. Such a specialist must identify the fire safety measures that need to be in place. You should maintain close involvement in the process.

The Fire Risk Assessment Competency Council have produced a document (a Guide to Choosing a Competent Fire Risk Assessor) for information on how to select an appropriate person or organisation to carry out the risk assessment on your behalf.

The guide and other helpful documents are available via the link below:

  • Fire Industry Association - Risk Assessors

Fire Protection Officers

Our Fire Protection Officers (FPO) will audit the fire risk assessments and any relevant documentation relating to any premises.

At the end of the audit the 'responsible person' will be informed of their compliance level. The FPO will discuss any matters of concern with the 'responsible person'.

Setting up a new business?

For useful general information on meeting your obligations when going into business follow the links below:

  • Northamptonshire Growth Hub
  • Northamptonshire Enterprise Partnership

Further information

​Risk Based Inspection Program

We have responsibility for the enforcement of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.  As part of this role we visit a number of premises to carry out a risk based inspection program.

Fire risk assessment

If your premises is selected for a visit you will be required to present a fire risk assessment and emergency plan to one of our Fire Protection Officers and explain the contents.

If, when we visit, you have not completed a fire risk assessment you may have committed an offence under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 which may lead to enforcement action being taken.

For further advice, proforma risk assessment form and examples of completed risk assessments please see our meeting your legal obligations page.

Enforcement action

Enforcement action varies from educating and informing, notification of defects to be rectified, agreeing an action plan, an enforcement notice, an alterations notice, a prohibition notice or possible prosecution.

If you have made your assessment but we think you need to take further action, we will discuss this with you and highlight specific areas of concern. 

It is, however, the responsible person's duty to identify and take appropriate measures to comply with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

See the Public Register of Enforcement Action.

​Improving your safety

The safety of your building and its occupants can be greatly enhanced by the installation of an Automatic Fire Detection and Alarm System.

If properly used and maintained, the automatic system can be a significant factor in reducing the risk to life, and the limiting of damage to your property. 

Unwanted fire signals (False alarm calls)

Unfortunately, the very features that provide this fast response can also produce unwanted signals arising from activities other than a real fire. 

These can prove both costly both to the fire service, by initiating unnecessary turnouts of fire appliances and to the building operator. Evacuation of a building as a result of a false alarm signal can result in loss of production and general disruption of normal business activities.

Follow the simple rules

Compliance with the simple rules below will help to release the fire service for more essential duties.

  • Automatic fire alarm rules (PDF format 31KB)

They may also help to save you from the permanent loss of business so frequently associated with a major fire.

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