Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (FSO)

The Government is committed to regulating only where necessary and in a way that is more suited to the needs of modern business. That is why the FSO was made under the Regulatory Reform Act 2001. It replaces most fire safety legislation with one simple act. It means any person who has some level of control in a premises must take reasonable steps to reduce the risk from fire and make sure people can safely escape if there is a fire. 

Will Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service (CFRS) still inspect my premises?

In most cases yes, particularly in higher risk premises as part of our risk-based audit programme. However, we will not carry out a fire risk assessment for you as it is your responsibility under the FSO. 

What is a fire risk assessment?

This is an assessment of your premises specific to fire, to help identify the likelihood of a fire starting from the activities being carried out on there and who could be at harm. The fire risk assessment will help identify the fire precautions and arrangements necessary to reduce the risk of fire and to protect people if a fire does start. 

Does the fire risk assessment need to be documented?

The responsible person must record the significant findings of the fire risk assessment where:

  • Five or more people are employed.
  • A licence under any enactment is in force in relation to the premises.
  • An alterations notice requiring this is in force in relation to the premises.

It is good practice to record your significant findings in any case and in order to demonstrate to regulators that an assessment has been carried out.

Who is responsible for meeting the FSO? 

Under the FSO, anyone who has control or a degree of control of over certain areas or systems of premises may be the “responsible person(s)”. For example it could be the owner, employer, managing agents, the self-employed or any other person who has some control over a part of the premises. 

What happens if I don’t comply with the FSO?

CFRS will, where necessary, offer support, advice and guidance on how best to improve your fire safety arrangements. In doing so, CFRS will take account of measures which are proportionate and reasonable to the identified risk and your business. 

In cases where a serious risk exists and is not being managed, fire and rescue authorities have a statutory duty to enforce compliance.

Failure to comply with the FSO could lead to fines and up to two years in prison.  

Do I need a fire certificate?

No, fire certificates are no longer valid. However, a fire certificate is a good starting point for your fire risk assessment.

What is a non-domestic premises?

All work places and commercial premises, all premises that the public have access to and the common areas of multi-occupied residential buildings

I have a very small business and I only employ one person, does the FSO apply to me?

Yes, you will need to carry out a fire risk assessment and have an emergency plan even where there is just one employee.

I have a very small bed and breakfast with only one guest bedroom, does the FSO apply to me?

Yes, the FSO applies to you if anyone pays to stay in your property. 

Does my self-catering property fall under the scope of the FSO?

Yes, any flat, house, cottage or caravan that you rent out to others on a short term arrangement or for a holiday is covered. 

I have a small pub, I don’t have any staff and I do all the work myself, does the FSO apply to me?

Yes, as you are responsible not only for yourself, but also the people that enter your premises. You must ensure that there are adequate fire safety measures and arrangements in place to safeguard all persons. As you hold an alcohol licence, you must record the significant findings of your fire risk assessment. 

I am just one of the businesses in a large, multi-occupied building. Who has responsibility here? 

Under the Fire Safety Order each employer is responsible for the safety of both their employees and any other relevant person. This may include employees of other employers as well as visitors, contractors etc. 

As an employer you must take account of the risk to both your employees and other relevant persons to the extent to which you have control of the premises and other employers in the building must do the same. 

The owner (or landlord if they have legal responsibility) of the building must take into account the risk to persons in the common parts. 

Article 22 of the FSO requires all parties to cooperate and coordinate, where two or more responsible persons have duties. 

How often should fire extinguishers be tested?

They should be tested annually by a competent service engineer and a test certificate should also be provided to help you demonstrate compliance to regulators. 

Does CFRS run fire safety training courses, such as how to use fire extinguishers?  

No, however, we do hold free business fire safety seminar for businesses, to help you to meet your legal obligations under the FSO. 

Can CFRS dispose my defective/unwanted fire extinguisher for me?

No, but there are organisations that do recycle unwanted or defective fire extinguishers. You can also contact your local fire extinguisher providers and/or recycling centres in your area for further guidance on this matter. 

I’m altering the layout of my office by making structural changes. Can CFRS advise me if the changes are adequate from a fire safety perspective? 

CFRS is able to pass comment on such proposals but you may require building regulations approval, which rests with building control bodies, either from the local authority or the private sector as an approved inspector. If building regulations is required, then the appointed building control body have a duty to consult with CFRS. Always consult an appropriate building control body in the first instance for such matters, as they are the lead enforcing agency.