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Emergency Lighting and the New Fire Safety legislation

Emergency Lighting and the New Fire Safety legislation –

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005

A number of important changes have been made to fire safety regulations relating to Emergency Lighting, means of escape, fire detection equipment, etc. The changes are designed to make the law both easier to comply with and easier to understand as the new law reforms fire safety regulations contained in over one hundred separate pieces of legislation. 

Who will be affected by these changes?

The new fire safety rules affect all non-domestic premises in England and Wales and came into force on 1st October 2006. If you are:

  • responsible for business premises with 5 or more employees
  • an employer or self-employed with business premises with 5 or more employees
  • a charity or voluntary organisation with 5 or more employees
  • a contractor with a degree of control over any premises of 5 or more employees

...then you will need to have acted by 1st October 2006 and continue to take up these new responsibilities.

What are your new responsibilities?

The new law places the responsibility for fire safety of the premises with the “responsible person”.  In the workplace, this is the employer or any other person who may have control of any part of the premises, for example, the occupier or owner.  Contractors will also be held accountable for the areas outlined in the terms of their contract. As the Fire Authorities have stopped issuing Fire Certificates, the responsibility has already passed to the “responsible person”.

What is a Fire Risk Assessment?

If you are the “responsible person” you must carry out a fire risk assessment. The aim is to help keep people and your premises safe from fire.  The fire risk assessment must therefore provide a thorough evaluation of fire hazards and people at risk and where necessary taking actions to remove hazards or to reduce the risks. Effective methods of reducing such risks are by the application of fire precautions & equipment eg: Emergency Lighting, Fire Alarm, Fire extinguishers and Sprinklers. 

The Government has produced 10 of the 11 guides (plus the introduction with check list and the entry level guide) which support this legislation and cover the whole range of premises affected by the new law. The short form guide identifies the five steps of Fire Risk assessment. The available guides are:

Guides to support the legislation:

About the guides - introduction and checklist

Entry Level Guide - A short guide to making your premises safe from fire

Guide 1 - Offices and shops

Guide 7 - Large places of assembly

Guide 2 - Factories and warehouses

Guide 8 - Theatres and cinemas

Guide 3 - Sleeping accommodation

Guide 9 - Outdoor events   not available

Guide 4 - Residential care premises

Guide 10 - Healthcare premises

Guide 5 - Educational premises

Guide 11 - Transport premises and facilities

Guide 6 - Small and medium places of assembly


Once you have identified the Fire Hazards (step 1) and the risk to persons in the event of a fire (step 2) you will need to consider if you can remove or reduce the fire hazards and if your fire precautions are adequate  (step 3).  Emergency lighting is a proven method of reducing risks on the escape route.

The Government guides refer to BS 5266, the Code of Practice for the application of Emergency Lighting. Download the pictographic check list  with illustrations and a compliance check list for inspection engineers to outline the minimum requirements for an emergency lighting scheme which will comply with the requirements of BS 5266. 

The Government advise that premises that are in receipt of a recently issued fire certificate are unlikely to “need additional changes”.  However, if the premises had fire certificates issued prior to 1999 it is highly likely that changes will be required.  It is important to realise that Shops, Offices and other premises previously excluded from legislation will most likely require the installation of additional emergency lighting and fire equipment.

Not only must premises contain emergency lighting and escape route signage, the equipment installed must be the correct type, installed in the correct location and satisfy the requirements of BS5266. Some consideration should also be given to the benefits associated with the installation of Automatic test equipment, complying with BSEN 62034, as this will significantly reduce operational costs and aid record keeping.

Once you have established that the risks are sufficiently reduced (step 3), you will need to record (if there are five or more persons employed (recommended even if there are less than 5 employees) all of your findings and any actions that were  necessary to reduce risks and to improve fire precautions & equipment (step 4). You will need to create an emergency plan, to train individuals on their involvement in the plan and to ensure that equipment is maintained in a funtional manner and ready for use at all times.  In addition, you will need to keep records of equipment tests and any changes made to the emergency plan or Fire Risk Assessment.

Finally you are required to undertake regular reviews (step 5) as risks may change.

What if your premises do not comply?

Failure to comply with the new law may incur restrictions on use, a fine, imprisonment or both a fine and imprisonment.

We recommend that you take the time to read the documentation provided, it will help and assist in both aiding compliance with the new law and make your premises safer from the threat of fire.

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