Business legislation

The Fire Safety Order (2005) is the principal legislation governing fire safety in England and Wales and applies to all non-domestic premises as well as the common parts of blocks of flats and houses in multiple occupation.

The responsible person

If you’re an employer, owner, landlord or occupier of a business or other non-domestic premises, you’re responsible for fire safety and are known as the ‘responsible person’.

The responsible person must take reasonable steps to reduce the risk from fire and as far as is reasonably practical make sure that everyone who is legally on the premises, or nearby, can escape safely in the event of a fire.

Regardless of the nature of your business you must:

  • Carry out a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment.
  • Create an emergency plan that would outline what to do in the event of a fire. In most cases, you should keep a written record of your plan.
  • Test and maintain fire protection equipment
  • Provide adequate fire training for employees on induction and periodically thereafter


The law applies to you if you are any of the following:

  • Responsible for business premises
  • An employer or self-employed with business premises
  • Responsible for a part of a dwelling where that part is solely used for business purposes
  • A charity or voluntary organisation
  • A contractor with a degree of control over any premises
  • Organizing an outdoor event (e.g. festival or fair)
  • Providing accommodation for paying guests (e.g. B&B or holiday cottage)

The exact requirement for smoke alarms should be determined by your fire risk assessment. Typically smoke alarms should be provided if persons sleep on the premises or if you have an area where people could become trapped by a fire because they are unaware of its development. There will be some premises where they may not be necessary; however all premises must have a means of raising the alarm once a fire is detected – e.g. manual call points.

All facilities, equipment and devices provided in respect of fire safety should be subject to a suitable system of testing and maintenance. This includes fire alarms, fire extinguishers, emergency lighting and fire doors.

The legislation states that you must take measures for fire fighting – in most cases this will take the form of fire extinguishers. The number and type of fire extinguishers should be determined by your fire risk assessment.