Fire safety is a critical concern for businesses operating within the United Kingdom. The law requires that every business owner, regardless of the size or type of business, conduct a thorough fire risk assessment to ensure the safety of their premises and the people within. This blog post aims to guide you through the essential aspects of fire risk assessments for businesses in the UK, ensuring your operations not only comply with legal standards but also promote a safe working environment.

1. Legal Framework

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 is the central piece of legislation concerning fire safety in England and Wales. In Scotland, the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005 and the associated Fire Safety (Scotland) Regulations 2006 apply, while Northern Ireland operates under the Fire and Rescue Services (Northern Ireland) Order 2006 and the Fire Safety Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2010.

These laws mandate that every business must carry out a fire risk assessment. If you have five or more employees, the findings must be recorded in writing. This assessment must be reviewed and updated regularly, especially following significant changes in the workplace or after an actual fire incident.

2. Responsibilities of the Responsible Person

The legislation identifies a ‘responsible person’ – usually the employer, owner, landlord, or occupier of business or other non-domestic premises. This person is tasked with fire safety and must:

  • Conduct and regularly review a fire risk assessment of the premises.
  • Identify fire hazards and people at risk.
  • Implement appropriate fire safety measures.
  • Plan for an emergency.
  • Provide staff information, fire safety instruction, and training.

3. Conducting a Fire Risk Assessment

The process of conducting a fire risk assessment can be broken down into five key steps:

  • Step 1: Identify Fire Hazards This includes sources of ignition (e.g., electrical equipment, heaters), materials that fuel fires (e.g., paper, textiles), and oxygen sources (e.g., air conditioning, medical or commercial gases).
  • Step 2: Identify People at Risk Everyone present on the premises needs to be considered, with special attention given to vulnerable individuals like the elderly, children, or those with disabilities.
  • Step 3: Evaluate, Remove, Reduce, and Protect from Risk Evaluate the risk of a fire starting and the risk to people from fire. Remove or reduce fire hazards and risks to people from exposure to fire as much as possible.
  • Step 4: Record, Plan, Inform, Instruct, and Train Document your findings, prepare an emergency plan, and inform and instruct relevant people. Provide training as necessary.
  • Step 5: Review Regularly review the fire risk assessment to ensure it remains up to date and reflects any changes in circumstances.

4. Enforcement and Penalties

Local fire and rescue authorities are responsible for enforcing fire safety legislation. Non-compliance can lead to notices that require changes to fire safety measures, fines, or even imprisonment for the most serious offences.

5. Professional Assistance

While smaller businesses may be able to carry out their fire risk assessments, larger or more complex businesses should consider hiring a professional fire safety consultant. This ensures that the assessment is carried out correctly and comprehensively.


Fire risk assessments are not just a legal requirement but a fundamental part of ensuring the safety of your employees, customers, and business assets. By understanding and implementing the requirements detailed in UK fire safety laws, businesses can create a safer environment for everyone involved. Regular reviews and updates of your fire risk assessment will help to maintain this safety and ensure compliance with the law. Remember, fire safety is an ongoing process, not a one-time task.