The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 – Who’s responsibility is it anyway?
Since the implementation of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 the need for a formal evacuation plan, with equipment best suited for purpose has been brought to the top of the agenda for all fire/health & safety consultants.
The simplified message is that any person who has some level of control of premises must take reasonable steps to reduce the risk from fire & ensure that everyone who may be on the premises, at the time of the fire can escape safely.
Whilst this simplification amounts to common sense, the legislation places more emphasis on paying particular attention to people who may have a disability and/or those who need special help to reach a place of safety.
The order applies to virtually all premises and covers every type of building, structure and open space from offices to stadiums. Premises that provide care such as hospitals, care homes and hospices are singled out as being a particularly high risk category, for obvious reasons.
The onus is on the business owner to ensure that the requirements of this legislation are followed. Any repercussions, from any incident that results from a misdemeanour will fall squarely at their door. Hefty fines/ lawsuits and closure can occur for businesses who fail to comply.
Main rules under the order are as follows:-
- Carry out a fire risk assessment
- Consider who may be especially at risk
- Get rid of or reduce the risk from fire as far as is reasonably possible
- Take other measures to ensure that there is protection from flammable or explosive materials
- Create a plan to deal with any emergency & keep a formal record
Once, the fire risk assessment has been carried out, some decisions then have to be made about the equipment which is required, particularly with non-ambulant individuals in mind. The options generally boil down to three main choices:-
- Evacuation on a mattress using either Ski Sheets or Evacuation Straps
- Evacuation chairs – some of which are suited to use on staircases
- Evacuation Mats/Ski Pads, which some users feel more comfortable using as an alternative to chairs for staircase evacuation
With that being said, emergency evacuation and general rescue incidents are becoming more and more complex with the number of obese/bariatric people growing in the UK.
Spectrum Healthcare (UK) Ltd have introduced a range of products to their existing line, which cater for these individuals. The most recent addition to their product range – the Bariatric EvacMat, has received plaudits from hospitals, ambulance trusts and fire services as there are very few products on the market which can cater for the transfer of very large patients/residents, in an emergency situation.
The legislation has now been in force for approximately nine years and it is believed that as many as a third of businesses are still not aware of their duties under the order. Of those that are aware of their duties it is hard to say how many are taking the law seriously or may be using the assessment approach as a way to go unmonitored in choosing not to spend on fire safety – thus putting lives in danger and risking serious repercussions.