If you own, manage or operate a business, you need to comply with fire safety law. The main laws that apply in Northern Ireland are:
- The Fire and Rescue Services (Northern Ireland) Order 2006; and
- The Fire Safety Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2010.
The Regulations came into effect on 15 November 2010.
Who does it apply to?
The Order applies to almost all buildings, places and structures other than domestic premises.
Other places covered by the Order include houses in multiple occupation (HMOs), and facilities for the protection of firefighters in blocks of flats and maisonettes.
What are your responsibilities?
You need to make sure:
- Your premises reach the required standards.
- Employees are provided with adequate fire safety training.
What does ‘adequate fire safety training’ mean in practice?
It 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 build appropriate skills such as managing fire safety, fire risk assessment, fire warden or using fire extinguishers.
Who enforces the legislation?
Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service is the enforcing authority for the majority of premises. Inspectors will visit premises to ensure compliance in accordance with procedures detailed in NIFRS Fire Safety Enforcement Policy.
What about 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 Assessment page.
Where will I find guidance about the required standards for my building?
It depends on the building in question. The best place to start is the Fire Safety Guides page – it provides guidance for most circumstances.
If you are responsible for specialised housing – for example, sheltered housing, extra care housing, or supported housing for people with common characteristics, such as learning disabilities and mental health problems – NFCC Fire Safety in Specialised Housing guide is helpful.
If you need information about requirements for purpose-built blocks of flats, the Local Government Association (LGA) provides useful information in their publication Fire Safety in Purpose Built Blocks of Flats
If you are looking for more information about small Bed & Breakfast Premises, small Self-Catering Premises, HMOs and Caravan Sites, NIFRS has published specific guides on the Fire Safety Guides page. Guidance for Glamping Pods, Yurts or similar units are included with the Caravan Sites Guide.
Where will I find guidance about Building Regulations?