07 January 2015

It is a common misconception that the sector-specific guides on the RR(FS)O (and equivalent guidance in Scotland and Northern Ireland) have the status of Approved Codes of Practice (ACOPs), such as those produced by HSE. This is incorrect.

An ACOP has a special status; if there is not compliance with an ACOP, there is a duty to ensure an equivalent level of safety. HM Government guides on fire safety legislation for existing buildings do not have this status. They are benchmark standards to assist duty holders in determining for themselves the appropriate, legally required measures. The ultimate test of compliance is whether, in the particular circumstances, the requirements of the legislation have been satisfied rather than that recommendations in the guides have been prescriptively followed.