Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service - Protecting Our Community
www.nifrs.org
 
back
Introduction
Premises affected by the legislation
Main requirements under the legislation
5 steps to fire risk assessment
Enforcement
Public Register
FAQs
Guidance documents
Contact details
 

NIFRS Enforcement Policy

The aims, standards and values that will be applied by Inspecting Officers when enforcing fire safety legislation are set out in the NIFRS Enforcement Policy.

The policy takes into consideration the Better Regulation Agenda, The Enforcement Concordat, The Regulators Compliance Code, The Human Rights Act, The Data Protection Act and The Code for Prosecutors, Public Prosecution Service Northern Ireland.

Powers of Inspectors

An Inspector appointed by NIFRS has powers under the following legislation:

The Fire and Rescue Services (Northern Ireland) Order 2006.

An Inspector may do anything necessary for the purpose of enforcing fire safety duties under this Order and in particular shall have the power to do the following:

In summary:

  • To enter any premises and to inspect the whole or part of the premises and anything in them. This may be done at any reasonable time, or in a situation which in his opinion is or may be dangerous, at any time
  • To require a person, who is subject to fire safety duties, to give such facilities, information, documents, records or assistance which the Inspector may reasonably request
  • To inspect and copy any documents or records on the relevant premises, or remove them from the relevant premises
  • To carry out any inspections, measurements and tests, in relation to the relevant premises or an article or substance found on the premises, that are considered necessary;
  • To take samples of any articles or substances found on the premises for the purposes of ascertaining their fire resistance or flammability
  • To dismantle any article, deemed dangerous in event of fire, for inspection or testing

Persons whose premises are inspected by NIFRS have certain rights under the following legislation regarding the inspection of, and taking possession of articles or substances from, their premises:

The Police and Criminal Evidence (Northern Ireland) Order 1989, Code of Practice 'B'.

In summary:

  • The inspection should normally take place at a reasonable hour, only after an Inspector has told you the purpose of the inspection and shown credentials, if requested
  • Inspections must be conducted with due consideration for the property and privacy of the occupier and with no more disturbance than necessary
  • A witness to the inspection is allowed.
  • No item may be removed which is the subject of legal privilege
  • You are entitled to a list or description of removed items, on request, within a reasonable time
  • Removed property will be retained no longer than is necessary

A visit by an inspector - what to expect

Audits are carried out following nationally agreed guidelines so that any advice given to you is consistent and proportionate to any risk in your premises.

Our Inspectors carry out audits in a fair and open manner in accordance with the NIFRS Enforcement Policy.

Fire Safety Inspectors

Fire Safety Inspectors are issued with an identity card and a written warrant from the Chief Fire Officer which will be shown to you on request. This warrant gives the Inspector the power to enforce fire safety duties as detailed above.

Documentation Required During The Audit

During the audit the Inspector will ask to view the following documents, where applicable to your premises:

  • Fire Risk Assessment
  • Fire Precautions Log Book
  • Records of Staff Training and Fire Drills
  • Records of Testing and Maintenance of Firefighting Equipment (Extinguishers)
  • Records of Testing and Maintenance of all Fire Safety Systems including Fire Alarms, Emergency Lighting, Sprinkler System, Smoke Ventilation System

Fire Safety Standards Within The Building

As part of the audit, the Inspector may wish to view the fire safety standards in all or part of the building. The Inspector may also wish to talk to members of staff to confirm their level of fire safety awareness.

Informal Action

Notification of Fire Safety Deficiencies Form

Where NIFRS is of the opinion that you have failed to comply with any requirements imposed on you by the Order but the breach is considered not to warrant service of an Enforcement Notice, the above notification will be served on you, in writing, by the Inspector. The notification will identify the matters to address and the steps considered necessary to remedy them.

The Notification of Fire Safety Deficiencies is not an Enforcement Notice. It identifies deficiencies which are required to be addressed to meet your legal obligations under the Order and is issued by NIFRS before any formal enforcement action is taken.

As the appropriate person you may be given a period of up to 28 days in which to make satisfactory progress towards achieving a remedy to the deficiencies.

Action Plan

Where NIFRS is of the opinion that you have failed to comply with a series of requirements imposed on you by the Order but the breaches are considered not to warrant service of an Enforcement Notice, consideration may be given to the use of an Action Plan. This will identify the deficiencies, set out an agreed program of remedies and prioritise the order of their completion.

The Action Plan is not an Enforcement Notice. It identifies deficiencies which are required to be addressed to meet your legal obligations under the Order and is issued by NIFRS before any formal enforcement action is taken.

As the appropriate person, a reasonable set of timescales will be agreed with you to complete all the measures referred to in the Action Plan.

Formal Action

Alterations Notice

Where NIFRS considers:

  • premises constitute a serious (but controlled) risk to persons, whether due to the features of the premises, their use, any hazard present, or any other circumstances
  • premises constitute such a serious risk if a change is made to them, or the use to which they are put,

an Alterations Notice may be served on you as the appropriate person.

Where an Alterations Notice has been served, you must notify NIFRS before making:

  • a change to the premises
  • a change to the services, fittings or equipment in or on the premises
  • an increase in the quantities of dangerous substances which are in or on the premises
  • a change to the use of the premises which may result in a significant increase in risk

Enforcement Notices

Where NIFRS is of the opinion that, as a person being under an obligation to do so, you have failed to comply with the requirements placed upon you by The Order and that Enforcement is appropriate in the circumstances, you will be served with an Enforcement Notice.

Attached to the Notice will be a Schedule specifying the matters that, in the opinion of NIFRS, constitute failure(s) to comply with The Order.

The Schedule will also identify the steps that must be taken to remedy the specified failure(s), to ensure that you comply with The Order.

Unless the steps detailed in the Schedule to the Notice are taken by the specified date, it will be considered that you have not complied with the Notice and NIFRS may consider a prosecution against you. You may, however, apply for an extension of time.

Prohibition Notice

Where the Inspector considers that the use of the premises involves, or will involve, a risk to persons on the premises in the event of fire so serious that use of the premises ought to be prohibited or restricted, then NIFRS may serve a Prohibition Notice. The Notice may prohibit use immediately or after a specified time and not allow it to be used until remedial action has been taken. The notice will explain why the action is necessary.

Legal Enforcement

NIFRS 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.

Offences and Related Penalties

Failure to comply with the fire safety duties imposed by this Order or with any requirement or restriction imposed by a Notice issued under this Order, is a criminal offence under Articles 41 to 44 of the Order.

Article 41 (5) to (9) sets out the scale of penalties ranging from a fine to imprisonment, or both.

Appeals

A person on whom an Alterations Notice, an Enforcement Notice or a Prohibition Notice is served may, within 21 days from which the Notice is served, appeal by way of complaint for an order to the Clerk of the County Court.