The short answer is probably not… but only because fire safety certificates are no longer issued for most businesses. The principles behind the certificate, however, are still very much in force and if you don’t comply, you could find yourself on the receiving end of a hefty fine. The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 is very clear on the matter of what you must do as a business owner and employer and what laws you must adhere to.
Fire Safety Procedures
If you are starting up, or already run a business, then you will need to think about your fire safety procedures. While for many small enterprises this may be a relatively simple process, for others it can be quite complex and require careful consideration. A good place to start is with the type of business you are operating, your environment and the possible danger these could present.
Keeping the workforce and anyone else on the premises safe is always the primary goal. One simple rule to follow is that the more people you have in the building – the more Wardens and other fire safety assets you are likely to need. As you would expect the more people you add into the scenario, the more you will need to consider. With a handful of employees you can easily adapt as needed, but this becomes much more difficult as the employees increase.
Fire Safety Needs
Assessing your fire safety needs is not as simple as just the number of people in the building though because other input such as the environment can be a big factor. A small, office-based, operation with a handful of staff may not require much more than a Fire Warden and clear labelling.
A workshop containing flammable liquids and welding equipment will need a careful risk assessment and very detailed procedures. Yet both of these examples could employ the same number of people. If your business is open to the public then you will need to also take this into account because they are unpredictable and untrained in an emergency. As you can see your fire safety requires careful thought.
Fire Safety Inspections
Your premises will still be inspected to check your compliance. This will usually be done by a representative of the local Fire and Rescue Authority. They will be looking for a number of things to see if you are up to speed with your safety procedures. For example, they will expect to see that the staff are trained to a suitable level and awareness of fire safety equipment and process is in place.
Fire equipment such as extinguishers and alarms will also be part of their assessment. Their job is not to find fault though and they are usually very friendly and helpful. It will be their intention to work with you and not against you. Essentially all they are interested in is the simple question ‘are your premises and people in them, safe’? However, make no mistake that if you do not comply with current legislation you could be facing some pretty serious consequences.
When you are starting a new business venture you will be pulled in all directions at once. It is vital though that you ensure you make time to get the fire safety training you need to understand the fire regulations and how they apply to your circumstances. There are online fire training courses, as well as face to face fire training courses available to meet your needs and requirements.
People sometimes make the mistake of thinking because certificates are no longer issued then there is less focus on fire safety. This is simply not the case. The fire safety certificate may have gone the way of the dodo and the office tea trolley, but the fire regulations have not.