Do I need a fire alarm system?

In England and Wales, if you’re an employer, owner, landlord or occupier of business or other non-domestic premises, you’re responsible for fire safety and are 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.

As the ‘responsible person’ you must:

  • carry out and regularly review a fire risk assessment of the premises
  • tell staff and/or their representatives about the risks you’ve identified
  • put in place, and maintain, adequate and appropriate fire safety measures to remove or reduce the risk to life
  • plan for an emergency
  • provide staff information, fire safety instruction and training

Non-domestic premises are:

  • all workplaces and commercial premises
  • all premises the public have access to
  • the common parts of multi-occupied residential buildings

Alterations, extensions and new buildings

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.

Penalties and enforcement

You could get fined and/or go to prison if you don’t follow fire safety regulations.Local fire and rescue authorities inspect premises and can issue fire safety notices telling you about changes you might need to make to your premises.

Fire risk assessments

The ‘responsible person’ must carry out and regularly review a fire risk assessment of the premises. This will identify what you need to do to prevent fire and keep people safe.

You must keep a written record of your fire risk assessment if your business has 5 or more people.

Carrying out the assessment

  • Identify the fire hazards.
  • Identify people at risk.
  • Evaluate, remove or reduce the risks.
  • Record your findings, prepare an emergency plan and provide training.
  • Review and update the fire risk assessment regularly.

You’ll need to consider:

  • emergency routes and exits
  • fire detection and warning systems
  • fire fighting equipment
  • the removal or safe storage of dangerous substances
  • an emergency fire evacuation plan
  • the needs of vulnerable people, eg the elderly, young children or those with disabilities
  • providing information to employees and other people on the premises
  • staff fire safety training

Help with the assessment

The responsible person can do the fire risk assessment themselves with the help of standard fire safety advice documents. If you don’t have the expertise or time to do the fire risk assessment yourself you’ll need to appoint a ‘competent person’ to help, eg a professional risk assessor.

If you’re not sure if your risk assessment has been carried out properly your local fire and rescue authority might be able to give you advice although they can’t carry out risk assessments for you.

Fire safety advice documents

Read the government’s guidance on the Fire Safety Order information and:

  • making your premises safe
  • having paying guests (eg bed and breakfast or self-catering accommodation owners)
  • fire escape facilities for disabled people
  • how to make detailed risk assessment documents for different types of premises
  • fire safety in purpose-built flats and other types of housing
  • Usually the requirement for a fire alarm is determined by a fire risk assessment or an insurance company as part of the business insurance.

A fire risk assessment should indicate all/any fire risk areas and any control measures which can be taken to reduce the risk.  The control measures may include the use of manual call points or automatic detection.

If an automatic fire alarm system is called for in your Fire Risk Assessment then a system category should be stipulated. C Gascoigne can then design a system to meet that specification.

If you wish to discuss your needs please contact us and we will be happy to talk this through with you.