Tecserv UK CEO Grahame Tilley reflects on the years that have passed since the introduction of the 2005 Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order and the requirement to appoint a Responsible Individual.
“In 2005 the Government launched the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order, (RRO). This document replaced 179 fire legislation documents and combined them into a single document. One of the changes that this document featured was that all companies who employ 5 people or more must have a written fire risk assessment. They are also required to appoint a “Responsible Individual.”
When the RRO was launched many companies advertised fire risk assessment documents on the internet, some of these documents were available free of charge and were designed so that the end user could complete the document (and therefore pass the assessment) in a tick box format. This method may be considered acceptable if the person completing the form was sufficiently qualified. However, in many cases it has since become apparent that the forms were being completed by a person with very little experience and most definitely could not be considered as competent.
More than a decade later it is my opinion that there remain thousands of companies that still do not have a written fire risk assessment that has been completed by a competent person, or worse still, they do not have a fire risk assessment at all.
In addition, the decision making process followed in order to choose who to appoint as the “responsible individual’ has been just as frightening. In many instances companies have not bothered, or do not realise that they must appoint this person. All too often, they have appointed a person with little, or no experience of assessing the risk of fire and ensuring measures are in place to protect people, property and processes.
Even worse, the owners, or Directors of the company, have failed to realise and inform their responsible person, that failing to carry out their duties could result a prison sentence. Should an incident occur that causes injury, the Directors and the ‘responsible individual’ can be held liable. All too often, the role of the ‘responsible individual’ is treated with the same importance that is given to making sure the coffee jar in the canteen is full.
I firmly believe that the fire risk assessment should be conducted by an experienced professional, and preferably someone who holds a third-party accreditations, such as the qualifications issued by BAFE, or the Fire service training college.
Then, should the fire risk assessment state that a fire alarm system is required, the assessment must state to what category the system should be designed, and installed by a BAFE approved installer.