Everyone who enters your business premises – employees, customers, contractors or other visitors – should ensure fire safety. However, each non-domestic premises now has a legally-designated ‘responsible person’ who must arrange for a risk assessment, identify any possible fire risks and deal with them.

It will usually be obvious who the responsible person is, although sometimes several people will share the responsibility – for example in shared premises or larger businesses. The responsible person will be someone who has control over premises, or over some areas, departments or systems. For example, it could be:

  • the owner, employer or manager of a business
  • the owner or managing agent of premises which are shared between a number of businesses
  • individuals within a multiple-occupancy building, such as self-employed people or
  • voluntary organisations if they control someone within the premises
  • You should establish who the responsible person is within your business or premises.

Where there is more than one person responsible for a premises, they are expected to:

  • co-operate with the other responsible persons so far as is necessary to comply with the regulations
  • co-ordinate with the other responsible persons’ measures required to comply with the regulations
  • share information with each other
  • The ‘responsible person’ is someone who has control, or a degree of control, over premises or fire-prevention
  • systems within premises. If you are the responsible person, you must make sure that everyone who uses your premises can escape if there is a fire.

The people you need to think about include anyone who might be on your premises, including employees, visitors or members of the public. You need to pay particular attention to those who may need special help, such as elderly or disabled people or children.

Your Responsibilities

In many small or less complex premises achieving an acceptable level of fire safety is likely to be a matter of common sense providing the responsible person makes enough time available to go through all the necessary steps.

The enforcing authority, which is usually the local fire authority, must be satisfied with your safety measures. If not, they will tell you what you need to do. If they find major problems they can serve an enforcement notice requiring you to improve safety or even restrict the use of your premises or close them altogether until you deal with any problems they raise.

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