Fire safety and risk assessment


Each year people die or are seriously injured as a result of fires at work. Besides loss of life, fire costs UK business millions of pounds, from damage to property, loss of business, fines, compensation claims and insurance premiums.

Many fires can be avoided by taking fire precautions. If a fire does break out, the effects can be minimised by having effective controls and procedures in place.

Fire safety legislation applies to all commercial premises and other buildings to which the public have access. It does not apply to private residential premises. The legislation allows businesses the flexibility to remove, reduce and manage their fire risks on the basis of the findings of a fire risk assessment.

This guide provides an overview of fire safety legislation and how to comply.

Who is responsible for fire safety?

Typically the employer, owner or occupier of the premises is responsible for fire safety. In law, they are known as the ‘responsible person’.

All workplaces, commercial premises and other buildings to which the public have access must have a fire safety risk assessment carried out. The responsible person must carry out or arrange for a risk assessment of the premises. They must also implement and maintain appropriate and adequate fire safety measures to minimise the risk to life from fire.

In the case of blocks of flats and houses of multiple occupation, the fire safety legislation applies to common or shared parts. In these cases the responsible person is usually the landlord, freeholder or managing agent.

If you haven’t done so already, you should establish who the responsible person is within your business or premises.

In shared premises, there are likely to be a number of people – including the owner and the employers within the building – with responsibilities under the fire safety legislation. Where this is the case, they are expected to:

  • co-operate with each other
  • co-ordinate with fire safety measures
  • share information with each other to ensure the safety of those on or in the vicinity of the premises