Fire risk assessments

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1. Who’s responsible

If you’re an owner, landlord or occupier of business or other non-domestic premises, you’ll be responsible for fire safety. You’re known as the ‘responsible person’.

The Fire Safety Order also applies if you have paying guests, eg if you run a bed and breakfast, guesthouse or let a self-catering property.


As the responsible person you must:

  •       carry out a fire risk assessment of the premises and review it regularly
  •       tell staff or their representatives about the risks you’ve identified
  •       put in place, and maintain, appropriate fire safety measures
  •       plan for an emergency
  •       provide staff information, fire safety instruction and training

Non-domestic premises

Non-domestic premises are:

  •       all workplaces and commercial premises
  •       all premises the public have access to
  •       the common areas of multi-occupied residential buildings

Shared premises

In shared premises it’s likely there’ll be more than one responsible person. You’ll need to co-ordinate your fire safety plans to make sure people on or around the premises are safe.

For common or shared areas, the responsible person is the landlord, freeholder or managing agent.

Alterations, extensions and new buildings

When building new premises or doing building work on existing premises, you must comply with building regulations. This includes designing fire safety into the proposed building or extension.

Penalties and enforcement

You could be fined or go to prison if you don’t follow fire safety regulations.

Local fire and rescue authorities inspect premises and can issue fire safety notices telling you about changes you need to make.

2. Fire risk assessments

As the responsible person you must carry out and regularly review a fire risk assessment of the premises. This will identify what you need to do to prevent fire and keep people safe.

You must keep a written record of your fire risk assessment if your business has 5 or more people.

Carrying out the assessment

  1. Identify the fire hazards.
  2. Identify people at risk.
  3. Evaluate, remove or reduce the risks.
  4. Record your findings prepare an emergency plan and provide training.
  5. Review and update the fire risk assessment regularly.

The fire safety risk assessment chart gives more detailed information about these steps.

You’ll need to consider:

  •       emergency routes and exits
  •       fire detection and warning systems
  •       firefighting equipment
  •       the removal or safe storage of dangerous substances
  •       an emergency fire evacuation plan
  •       the needs of vulnerable people, eg the elderly, young children or those with disabilities
  •       providing information to employees and other people on the premises
  •       staff fire safety training

Help with the assessment

You can do the fire risk assessment yourself with the help of standard fire safety advice documents.

You’ll need to appoint a ‘competent person’ to help, eg a professional risk assessor, if you don’t have the expertise or time to do the fire risk assessment yourself.

Your local fire and rescue authority might be able to give you advice if you’re not sure your risk assessment’s been carried out properly. However, they can’t carry out risk assessments for you.

Click here to download the Fire Defence Risk Assessment