Business Fire Safety

The law


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 a workplace, the ‘responsible person’ is the employer and any other person who may have control of any part of the premises, for example the occupier or owner.


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.


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Known as the Fire Triangle

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.

Based on the findings of the assessment, employers need to ensure that adequate and appropriate fire safety measures are in place to minimise the risk of injury or loss of life in the event of a fire.


To help prevent fire in the workplace, your risk assessment should identify what could cause a fire to start, ie sources of ignition (heat or sparks) and substances that burn, and the people who may be at risk.


Once you have identified the risks, you can take appropriate action to control them. Consider whether you can avoid them altogether or, if this is not possible, how you can reduce the risks and manage them. Also consider how you will protect people if there is a fire.

Carry out a fire safety risk assessment


  • Keep sources of ignition and flammable substances apart


  • Avoid accidental fires, eg make sure heaters cannot be knocked over


  • Ensure good housekeeping at all times, eg avoid build-up of rubbish that could burn


  • Consider how to detect fires and how to warn people quickly if they start, eg installing smoke alarms and fire alarms or bells


  • Have the correct fire-fighting equipment for putting a fire out quickly


  • Keep fire exits and escape routes clearly marked and unobstructed at all times


  • Ensure your workers receive appropriate training on procedures they need to follow, including fire drills


  • Review and update your risk assessment regularly



Please download the following guide for detailed information on carrying out a fire safety risk assessment.


Fire safety audits


A fire safety audit is undertaken by an authorised inspector from your Local Fire & Rescue Service.


It is an assessment of the steps you have taken to address fire safety matters within the premises. The duration of the audit is difficult to predict as it is dependent on the effectiveness of the fire risk assessment, and the level of fire safety awareness within the premises.


The inspector will wish to visit parts of the premises, and may talk to members of staff to confirm their level of fire safety awareness.





A Fire Authority will consider prosecution where, for example, there is failure to comply with the fire safety duties imposed by the Order and that failure has put one or more relevant persons at risk of death or serious injury in case of fire.


In addition, if there has been a failure to comply with any requirement or restriction imposed by a Notice issued under the Order, then again consideration will be given to prosecution.

Fire alarm systems








A fire alarm system is designed to give an early warning of fire to people in a premise, allowing them to escape quickly and safely.


Not all premises need a fire alarm system, for example if the alarm can be raised by someone shouting. The types of premise that do not need a fire alarm tend to be smaller single storey premises.


Some fire alarm systems are manual type ones where the alarm is raised by someone pressing a fire alarm call point. This type of fire alarm system is suitable for premises where the building is occupied in all areas and there are no places within the premises where people may be isolated and could be trapped by fire.


Some other types of fire alarm systems have detectors. These may detect a number of different types of things that fire gives off, like smoke or heat. This type of fire alarm system is usually needed in premises with more than one storey and where there are areas where a fire could start unobserved. If the fire has the chance to develop in this way then it could trap people inside. The detectors would give early warning of the development of fire and give people the chance to escape.


The types of detectors which are fitted in people’s homes are not suitable for business premises. Advice on the type of fire alarm that would be suitable for your premises should be sought from a reputable fire alarm system installer.

Escape routes







An escape route is any route that people within premises may have to travel along to escape from the building.

It’s really important that premises keep escape routes clear. That way, if the worst does happen and a fire starts, people can get out quickly and safely.



Here are some top tips:


  • People should know how to use escape routes, so signs should indicate where the escape routes are.


  • Doors on escape routes should not be locked. Any doors that are locked electronically, for security perhaps, should release on actuation of the fire alarm.


  • Doors on escape routes should open in the direction of escape.


  • Where fire doors are fitted they should be fitted with self closing devices, in good order and capable of resisting smoke.


  • Escape routes and exits should be adequate for the number of people likely to use them.


  • Stairways and corridors that make up the escape route should be kept clear of obstructions at all times.








The new Explosives Regulations 2014 (ER14) came into force on 1 October 2014 and consolidate and revoke a number of existing explosives regulations. ER14 brings together the requirements of health and safety related explosives legislation into a framework based around common topics and merges registrations into the licensing system.

It is important to note that this Authority requires 28 days notice to supply such a licence.


As a result of the consolidation the Approved Code of Practice to the Manufacture and Storage of Explosives Regulations 2005 (L139) was withdrawn from use on the 01 October 2014.


The new Explosive Regulations will be supported by a suite of overarching and subsector guidance.  The overarching guidance consists of two main documents:


ER14 Guidance on Regulations – Safety Provisions L150

ER14 Guidance on Regulations – Security Provisions L151


These and related guidance including specific guidance for retailers can be found at:





For the appropriate fees, please see The Health and Safety (Fees) Regulations 2012.


Storing between 5kg and 2,000kg NEC of other explosives


Apply to your Local Fire & Rescue Authority for a licence.


There are four hazard types of explosives – 1 is the most hazardous and 4 is the least hazardous.


The majority of retail fireworks are classed as hazard type 4. The hazard type of an explosive will be listed on manufacturer’s or supplier’s information.


Storing more than 2,000kg NEC of explosives


You must apply for a licence from the Health and Safety Executive if you:


• store more than 2,000kg of explosives, or


• store explosives at mines



Applying for a licence to sell fireworks at any time







You can only sell fireworks at certain limited times of the year.  If you wish to sell fireworks outside these times you must apply for a ‘licence to supply/expose for supply adult fireworks’  from your Local Fire & Rescue.  The annual fee is £500 and the licence must be renewed annually.


In addition to the Licence to Supply, applicants also need to be licensed with the Fire Authority to store fireworks.


Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 (DSEAR) – Risk Assessment


If you intend to store fireworks you will be required to complete a risk assessment based on DSEAR, further information on completing a DSEAR risk assessment can be found here



General Guidance


Registrations and licences issued in 2014 under the old legislation are valid until the date of expiry or revocation.


If you intend to sell fireworks you will need a licence.


  • You must register with your Local Fire Authority


  • Always store fireworks safely


  • Never sell to persons under the age of 18Ensure the safety of yourself and others by following this safety advice:


  • Carry out a risk assessment looking specifically at the arrangements for the storage of fireworks.


  • Don’t store fireworks in passageways, corridors, adjacent to exits or under the stairs. Keep these areas clear and unobstructed at all times.


  • Storage/displays of fireworks should be kept away from ignition sources.


  • Provide sufficient water extinguishers, buckets of water or sand and site them appropriately.


  • Label storage containers ‘Fireworks – Highly Flammable’ and display ‘No Smoking’ notices in retail areas.


  • Make sure your staff are aware of what to do in case of fire, e.g. how to call the Fire and Rescue Service, evacuate people immediately, etc.


  • Keep a wet cloth handy to mop up any spillage from fireworks whilst they are being handled.


  • Only use dummy boxes in window displays.


  • The maximum quantity on the counter top during a sale should be limited.



Remember that it is an offence to:


  • Keep fireworks (except for private use) on premises which have not been licensed


  • Sell fireworks to persons apparently under the age of 18.


  • Supply category 4 (large display) fireworks to inexperienced or untrained members of the public.



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