What is the role of the “responsible person”?

According to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, every organisation must nominate at least one “responsible person” who takes responsibility for the fire safety on site.

The purpose of this article is to guide you through the role of the responsible person so that you can be sure your organisation has everything covered.

You are responsible for the fire safety at your site if you are:
• The landlord of the building
• An employer
• The owner of the building
• An occupier
• Anyone else in control of the premises (for example it could be a facilities manager, site manager)

As an organisation it may be that there is more than one responsible person on site. For example, you may be the managing director of the business, who employs a facilities manager. In this instance, you would both be ultimately responsible for the fire safety even though the facilities manager may take care of the day to day duties, and must work together.

It’s worth noting that if you are the managing director, in this case, then you can’t relinquish your overall responsibility and must ensure that the person with day to day responsibility is doing their job.
Your responsibilities

Ultimately you must take general fire precautions to ensure, as far as reasonably practical, the safety of the occupants and that the premises are safe.

Thankfully the regulations go into more detail, outlining specific duties.

• Risk assessments. You must undertake a risk assessment regularly and document your work (if there are 5 or more people in the building). Your risk assessment should identify potential fire hazards and people at risk (such as those dealing with hazardous material). Once you have identified the risks you should document how you evaluated, reduced or removed the risks. (For a more detailed breakdown of how to perform a risk assessment please click here to read our guide).

• Evacuation plan and training. You must prepare an evacuation plan and ensure that all staff/occupants understand the route to their nearest fire escape, where to leave the building and the location of their meeting points. It should also include checks on emergency lighting to ensure it is adequate for your current requirements, and contain special arrangements for people with mobility needs. You must have a fire drill at least once each year and record the results.

• Staff training. It is your responsibility to train the staff in fire safety including how to prevent a fire, what to do if they detect a fire, the location of the fire extinguishers and how to evacuate the building.

• Fire detection system. You must ensure that the fire detection system is adequate and that it is fully maintained. Regulation states that the system must be maintained by a qualified professional at least twice each year. Emergency lighting must also be tested.

• Fire fighting equipment. The types of fire fighting equipment will be dictated by the type of building you have and how you use the building. However, the maintenance remains the same. You must visually check fire extinguishers monthly and have them serviced annually by a qualified professional. It is also worth noting that 5 and 10 year checks should be performed and any fire extinguishers replaced after 20 years.

• Site checks. You must carry out regular checks to ensure that escape routes are maintained and not blocked, that fire escapes can be opened easily and that automatic doors close correctly. Also check the fire exit signs and ensure that any building changes have not affected fire safety.

Fire safety is of paramount importance to any organisation. If you are in any doubt as to your obligations and how best to approach fire safety, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.

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