Right side of the law

New buildings or buildings under refurbishment

Approved Document B of the UK Building Regulations looks at fire safety in domestic houses and also non-domestic structures. The document itself is split into two parts – Volume One for domestic buildings and Volume Two for non-domestic, due to the amount of items that need to be covered. The main aim of each document is to set out the rules and guidelines that need to be followed in order to prevent the spread of fire over internal linings such as walls and ceilings and also on the external areas of a domestic building. It also states what materials can be used and what BS standards each should conform to, to ensure that they provide the required levels of protection. They are often referred to as simply Building Regs Part B.

Existing buildings

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 England and Wales.

The Order is designed to provide a minimum fire safety standard in all non domestic premises with a few exceptions. If it is a workplace it designates the employer the Responsible Person (RP). If any other person has to some extent control then they could have duties under the Order. If it is not a workplace then any person having control to some extent or the owner and can be designated the Responsible Person. Those persons or a person acting on their behalf, are required to carry out certain fire safety duties which include ensuring the general fire precautions are satisfactory and conducting a fire risk assessment. If more than five persons are employed it has to be a written fire risk assessment.

Previous general fire safety legislation

This Order replaced previous fire safety legislation and any fire certificate issued under the Fire Precautions Act 1971 will cease to have any effect.

You must still carry out a fire risk assessment and keep it up to date to ensure that all the fire precautions in your premises remain current and adequate. If you have previously carried out a fire risk assessment under the Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations 1997/1999 and this assessment has been regularly reviewed then all you will need to do now is update that assessment taking account of the wider scope of the Order.