Most fires are preventable, and those responsible for workplaces and other buildings to which the public have access can avoid them by taking responsibility for and adopting the right behaviours and procedures.
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 covers general fire safety in England and Wales.
In Scotland, requirements on general fire safety are covered in Part 3 of the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005, supported by the Fire Safety (Scotland) Regulations 2006.
In the majority of premises, local fire and rescue authorities are responsible for enforcing this fire safety legislation.
General fire safety hazards
Fires need three things to start – a source of ignition (heat), a source of fuel (something that burns) and oxygen:
- sources of ignition include heaters, lighting, naked flames, electrical equipment, smokers’ materials (cigarettes, matches etc), and anything else that can get very hot or cause sparks
- sources of fuel include wood, paper, plastic, rubber or foam, loose packaging materials, waste rubbish and furniture
- sources of oxygen include the air around us
What do I have to do?
Employers (and/or building owners or occupiers) must carry out a fire safety risk assessment and keep it up to date. This shares the same approach as health and safety risk assessments and can be carried out either as part of an overall risk assessment or as a separate exercise.
Dangerous substances that cause fire and explosion
Work which involves the storage, use or creation of chemicals, vapours, dusts etc that can readily burn or explode is hazardous. Each year people are injured at work by flammable substances accidentally catching fire or exploding. It is important to be aware of the risks and to control or get rid of them to prevent accidents.
The Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 (DSEAR) require employers to assess the risk of fires and explosions arising from work activities involving dangerous substances, and to eliminate or reduce these risks.