Fire regulations: general information to bear in mind
How do fire safety regulations apply to professional premises, buildings that are open for public use and private property? Are there standard regulations that cover fire safety precautions in all these types of establishment, or do particular buildings need to comply with specific regulations, according to levels of fire risk?
In general, all buildings must comply with standard fire safety regulations, to ensure the premises have taken the necessary precautions to reduce the risk of fire on their sites.
However, there’s a major difference in fire safety regulations for which you are responsible as a private home owner, compared to as a high-rise office block safety manager, for example.
As a home owner, you’re responsible for implementing fire safety precautions on your premises, to reduce the risk of fire damage to your home and to ensure the safety of your family.
As a high-rise office building safety manager, you’re responsible for ensuring that the building complies with fire safety regulations that will adequately protect all the employees on the premises, as well as external clients and members of the public who may be in the building at any given time.
Taking into account, too, the high-rise layout of the building – which makes planning emergency fire escape routes more complex that for a normal residential house – and we can easily see why there are differences in fire safety regulation levels for different categories of building.
Often, office buildings and buildings that are open for public use will be subject to regular fire safety risk assessments, to ensure that the systems in place comply with the latest regulations. This assessment will (dis)approve the fire safety precautions, prevention and protection methods that are in place within the building, indicating where improvements need to be made.
This might include ensuring the installation of smoke detectors linked up to automatic fire alarm systems, locating fire extinguishers at strategic points throughout the building and providing clear fire evacuation plans to safely get people out of the building, as well as other reasonable precautions relating to fire safety.
The fire safety regulations with which building owners and managers must comply do vary according to building type, so we’ll take a closer look at the various building categories covered by fire safety regulations below.
Did you know that fire safety regulations are also defined at a Europe-wide level? The EN 54 fire safety standard ensures that premises within the European Union comply with the fire safety regulations stipulated by the relevant regulatory bodies.
Fire regulations: how can you easily apply fire safety regulations in your type of premises?
As we’ve seen, the home owner is responsible for taking adequate fire safety precautions on their premises.
It’s a legal requirement to install smoke detectors in private property. Smoke detectors are – of course – able to detect levels of smoke in the home caused by a fire in the building. But, they’re also able to detect toxic fumes, such as carbon monoxide, that could arise due to boiler failure on the premises.
If you’re looking to install an integrated smoke detector and fire alarm system on your private premises, why not consider installing wireless versions of these fire safety devices?
That way, you’ll be able to tailor your fire safety system precisely to your home, adapting the precautions you take to the specific layout of the building. Plus, wireless fire safety systems give you the opportunity to go for a DIY approach, potentially saving you money on professional installation costs.
Buildings open to the public / Business and commercial premises
Premises that fall into this fire safety regulations category could be offices, schools, cinemas, theatres, leisure centres, libraries, hotels, town halls… and so on.
These types of buildings are frequented by employees and members of the public, who all need to be made aware of the fire safety precautions that are in place on the premises. Plus, they’ll need to be able to access the fire safety devices that allow them to raise the alarm in the event of an emergency, as well as fire fighting equipment such as extinguishers.
So, these types of buildings must (non-exhaustively) provide:
- Fire extinguishers situated at strategically useful locations around the building
- Clear instructions detailing fire evacuation routes and emergency assembly points outside the building
- Adequate fire prevention and protection training for staff members, usually organised by designated Fire Safety Officers
Fire regulations: special cases that require more stringent fire safety planning
The layout of some establishments means that a fire inside the building would pose a particularly serious risk to the safety of those on the premises. For example, high-rise residential or office buildings, or premises that are open to public use and experience high levels of footfall on a daily basis, need to plan particularly well for potential fire-related emergency situations.
If there’s a particular risk of fire due to the nature of your premises – such as for companies dealing with hazardous materials or machinery that operates at high temperatures, for example – you’ll also need to take particular care to consistently comply with the latest fire safety regulations.
Fire regulations: what’s their impact on private property and business premises insurance policies?
Take the time to read through the insurance company’s policy thoroughly, as insurance payments are often dependent on fire precautions being in place within the building concerned.
This will allow you to install the smoke detectors, fire alarm systems, fire extinguishers, fire safety evacuation plans, etc. required to guarantee insurance cover in the event of a fire.