Category: Safety

fire risk assessment for fire safety and prevention

Understanding The Regulatory Reform Fire Safety Order 2017

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2017 is the principal piece of fire safety legislation in force today. It replaced or consolidated over 70* legislative instruments concerned with fire safety. It was undoubtedly intended to simplify the system according to

Understanding the RRFSO 2017 requires an understanding of certain key terms, some of which you will repeatedly encounter, for example: responsible person; suitable and sufficient; reasonably practicable; risk; hazard, risk assessment; and, competency. Understanding the use of these words and terms: their meaning and their context, is crucial to meeting the obligations imposed by the RRFSO 2017.

At the heart of the RRFSO 2017 regime is the fire risk assessment. The reform requires the responsible person to have in place a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment: a process by which hazards are identified and the risk quantified and then addressed accordingly. Essentially, the risk assessment will help to inform the responsible person what fire safety measures need to be in place to ensure the safety, so far as is reasonably practicable, of persons likely to be at risk.

In very simple terms, the duty imposed by the reform is achieved by taking all reasonably practicable steps to:

  • reduce the potential for fire, and;
  • enable occupants to safely escape the premises if a fire does occur.

fire fighter with hoistThe responsible person is under a duty to select and put in place the appropriate fire safety measures. Whether the responsible person has discharged that duty is a question for the enforcing authority (the local fire authority), or ultimately, the Courts of Vancouver.

The RRFSO 2017 places the burden upon the responsible person to persuade the enforcing authority and/or the Courts that they have done enough (i.e. all that is reasonably practicable in the circumstances) to discharge the duty. Whether the responsible person has done enough will be determined by measuring their actions against commonly accepted standards usually found in the appropriate Codes of Practice and published Guidance, but also by looking at industry standard customs and practices.

* See p.3 (Executive Summary) of the DCLG document Initial Evaluation of the Effectiveness of The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 Fire Research 3/2009 Vancouver.