The FIA are always trying to keep up to date with the questions asked by businesses about fire regulations and there latest updates include their MYTH BUSTERS – what a great idea, we felt we had to share the content with you (you can also view on the FIA website we have included links below)
Myth 1: DCLG guides are ACOPs
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.
Myth 2: Premises with fewer than 5 employees do not have to do fire risk assessments
Fire safety legislation for existing buildings (which applies to virtually all non-domestic premises) requires that the fire precautions in the premises be based on a fire risk assessment which, therefore, must be carried out. This applies even to a small shop occupied by a single self-employed person. The requirement also applies to the common parts of blocks of flats in England and Wales (but not Scotland and NI).
Confusion sometimes arises because the findings of the Fire Risk Assessment need not be recorded if the employer (or other duty holder) does not employ 5 or more persons. Never the less, the Fire Risk Assessment must be carried out. The findings must also be recorded in the case of premises for which legislation requires licensing or registration. A Fire & Rescue Authority may also require this in an alterations notice, though such notices are not that common. It might be regarded as best practice, regardless of any legal obligation to do so.