Fire safety order

Your legal obligations

The fire safety order (Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005)

If you own, manage or operate a business, you need to comply with fire safety law. The main law is the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 or "the Fire Safety Order". It applies across England and Wales and came into force on 1 October 2006. 

The Order applies to almost all:

  • buildings,
  • places
  • and structures other than individual private homes – that's individual flats in a block or family homes. 

Other places covered by the Order include shared areas in houses in multiple occupation (HMOs), blocks of flats and maisonettes.

Your responsibilities

You need to make sure:

  1. Your premises reach the required standards.
  2. Employees are provided with adequate fire safety training.

Adequate fire safety training

The meaning of 'adequate fire safety training' varies from business to business, but generally includes:

  • Induction training to cover general fire awareness.
  • Periodic refresher training, or extra training where the level of fire risk increases as a result of changes in your operations.
  • Training to support people in meeting their fire safety duties – for example, keeping your 'responsible people' up to date.
  • Training to build appropriate skills such as fire risk assessment, fire warden or using fire extinguishers.

Fire Risk Assessments

It's mandatory to carry out a detailed assessment identifying the risks and hazards in a commercial premises. By law, if you are responsible for the premises, you need to make sure that a Fire Risk Assessment has been completed by a competent person.

Additionally, your Fire Risk Assessment must be recorded if you have:

  • a total of five or more employees
  • or your business has a licence under enactment in force.

The responsible person for the premises is also required to:

  • Consider who may be especially at risk.
  • Eliminate or reduce the risk of fire as far as is reasonably practical.
  • Provide general fire precautions to deal with any risk.
  • Take additional measures to ensure fire safety where flammable or explosive materials are used or stored.
  • Create a plan to deal with any emergency and where necessary record any findings.
  • Maintain general fire precautions, and facilities provided for use by firefighters.
  • Keep any findings of the risk assessment under review.

You can find out more about and how to complete them on the Fire Risk Assessments page

Required building standards

It depends on the building in question. The best place to start is the website – it provides guidance for most circumstances.

If you are responsible for specialised housing the NFCC Specialised Housing Guidance is helpful.  This includes guidance for:

  • sheltered housing
  • extra care housing
  • or supported housing for with learning disabilities and mental health problems.

If you need information about:

  • requirements for purpose-built dwellings, such as blocks of flats,
  • the Local Government Association (LGA) provides useful information in their downloadable publication Fire safety in purpose-built flats

If you are looking for more information about shared houses, bedsits and HMOs, please see this LACoRS guidance. 

Enforcement – our legal responsibilities

Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service has a responsibility to keep the county safe. An important part of this duty is making sure that people responsible for commercial premises are following the rules.

We enforce various legislation around fire safety, including:

  • the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2006.

We want to work with you to help your business to be compliant and successful It is important to us that you feel able to come to us for advice when you need it.

As well as enforcing relevant legislation, we have duties to provide fire safety advice to the extent we think reasonable. We are a statutory consultee for:

  • Building Regulations applications (excluding private dwellings),
  • entertainment licensing
  • and the provision of fire safety in residential care premises.

We also have regard to Primary Authority Partnerships formed under the Regulatory Enforcement and Sanctions Act 2008.

You'll find full details of our legal responsibilities on our Enforcement Policy page


We can visit your premises at any time to make sure you are following the rules and keeping employees and members of the public safe. We generally make appointments. We can also visit your premises at any time if we believe that an unannounced visit will better determine whether the law is being complied with. Of course, we are committed to being:

  • consistent
  • fair
  • transparent
  • proportional
  • competent
  • respectful
  • polite

What to expect if we visit?

  • Our officers will explain the reason and purpose of the visit and provide identification on request.
  • They will exercise discretion and have regard to your approach to compliance.
  • They will support you in meeting your statutory obligations – we provide useful tools on the Fire Risk Assessments page.
  • We will act on an assessment of risk and minimise our impact on your business.

What happens if you aren't compliant? 

If we find something wrong we could take action. This could range from:

  • providing information
  • advice
  • prosecuting those responsible in a court of law
  • for serious offences, you could be fined and/or imprisoned.

If you receive an Enforcement Notice or are prosecuted for failing to meet your responsibilities, we will publish details on the Public Risk Register. The information will also be shared in the National Chief Fire Officers website.

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