When it comes to the fire safety of your premises, it can seem like a minefield when trying to understand your responsibilities as a small business owner. Larger companies have the luxury of a fire specialist amongst their ranks, or can afford to engage one as and when required, that can help guide them through.
In 2005 the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order changed the way we approach fire safety at the workplace by removing the issue of fire certificates and instead placing the responsibility on individuals within an organisation to carry out risk assessments to identify, manage and reduce the risk of fire. The Order applies to virtually all non-domestic buildings (in England and Wales) and it is your responsibility to make sure your workplace reaches the required standard and employees are provided with adequate fire safety training.
So who’s responsible, who can do the risk assessment, what is the required standard and what is adequate training? There are numerous companies offering “professional” advice on risk assessments, installing and maintaining fire alarm systems etc., but who do you trust? If you get it wrong – you are the one that gets the fine, or in the worst case – be sent to prison.
Any “cowboy” can undertake any of these tasks as, believe it or not, no qualifications are required! To differentiate themselves from the pack, professional companies normally seek third party accreditation. Third-party certification involves an independent assessment declaring that specified requirements pertaining to a product, person, process or management system have been met. This is a good place to start to give you confidence in believing what you are being told is correct and the right solution for you.
The Fire Industry Association (FIA) is an independent not-for-profit trade association that represents over 700 professional UK companies. It is here to help business owners and within its ranks are some of the very best technical support engineers available to answer any of your questions for free (risk assessments, installation, maintaining, training etc.), so use them if you need any clarifications on what you need to do (or to check what you have been told).
Every one of the FIA’s members hold third party accreditation so if you see the FIA logo you can be assured you are dealing with a professional company.
Why not start your journey to understanding your responsibilities by watching a short video>>