Fire Safety Legislation

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005

In England and Wales, the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 is the current general legal requirement for fire safety in England and Wales. Sometimes called the Fire Safety Order (FSO) or otherwise known as the RRO, it came into force in October 2006 and was designed to simplify the existing fire safety legislation at the time.

The RRO has been amended by the Fire Safety Act 2021The Building Safety Act 2022, provides a new framework for the design, construction and occupation of “higher risk” buildings. These are defined as those having at least 18 metres or 7 storeys in height and comprise of at least 2 domestic premises. It introduces a new duty holder: the “Accountable Person”. The Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022, due to come into force in January 2023, introduces additional duties with regards to residential buildings comprising at least two domestic premises, in particular those that are more than 18 metres or 7 storeys high.

Current Legal Position

The simplified message of the FSO is that any person, who has some level of control of premises, must take reasonable steps to reduce the risk from fire and ensure that everyone who may be on the premises, at the time of the fire, can escape safely.

All premises used for non-domestic purposes, with a few small exceptions, fall under these regulations. The order applies to nearly every type of building and structure

Who does the FSO apply to?


Under the FSO, if you have control of the premises ie. business owner, employer, landlord, or individual who maintains control of the property, you are the ‘Responsible Person’ and are ultimately accountable for the fire safety of that premises and the individuals within it.

The order states that the ‘Responsible Person’ should take steps to reduce fire risk and as far as is reasonably practical make sure that everyone on the premises, or nearby, can safely evacuate the building, in the event of a fire.

As the responsible person, you must appoint one or more ‘Competent Persons’ to assist in undertaking the preventive and protective measures.

The Order has been rigorously enforced since 2006, with large fines and potential imprisonment imposed on the Responsible Persons for significant breaches.

Fire authorities will be the main agency responsible for enforcing all fire-safety legislation in non-domestic premises. They will target their resources and inspections at those premises that present the highest risk.

All fire authorities will continue to look into complaints about fire safety, carry out investigations after fires where poor fire-safety management is discovered and may carry out targeted inspections.

If you do not meet the order, the fire authority will provide practical advice or, if the risk is serious, a formal notice.

To support the Order, the The Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLC) have published a number of Guidance Documents to assist you in meeting your responsibilities. They will give advice on most types of premises where the duty to undertake a fire safety risk assessment under the Order applies.

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 – A short guide to making your premises safe from fire will give an overview and the following eleven guides will address the following categories of premises.

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