Shops and Departmental Stores

Fire Safety in new and altered Shops or Departmental Stores is subject to the Building Regulations.

When premises are occupied, fire precautions are controlled by The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 which lays down legal requirements.

The most appropriate guide for Shops and Departmental stores can be downloaded as Guide 1 – Offices and shops on the Department of Communities and Local Government web site.

Fire Risks

Shops are considered to be a moderate fire risk and fires usually occur as the result of carelessness, however, arson attacks are not unknown. The risks are similar to those in Offices and the level of risk varies as a result of the number of customers and the time the premises are occupied. The five principle risks are,

  • Carelessly discarded smoking materials especially if it is allowed to come into contact with flammable items. A lighted cigarette end could take a long time to ignite the item, at which time the premise could be unoccupied. Use signage and constantly broadcast the dangers to staff. A no smoking policy should be adopted throughout the store with designated smoking areas for staff and as a result these areas can be supervised closely.
  • Electrical Appliances can be a source of fire if they have been subjected to misuse. Occasionally, electrical faults can occur on apparatus, usually because they have not been serviced regularly. All electrical equipment should be tested annually. Keep staff informed of the possible dangers associated with the different types of equipment.
  • Kitchenettes or tea rooms can be a fire risk dependent on what has been provided, especially if food that is cooking is left unattended. Full dining facilities and kitchens are a high risk but this is lessened by having fully trained staff in attendance at all times.
  • A higher fire risk are store rooms because a large quantity of flammable goods may stored with limited supervision. House keeping and ensuring the storerooms are keep as tidy as possible will reduce the risk, this also applies to the premises as a whole. Ensure the dangers are discussed at any training sessions.
  • Tradesmen on the premises, especially those that use apparatus that is capable of starting a fire, such as blow lamps, gas torches, angle grinders etc. Ensure a high degree of supervision with suitable fire fighting equipment available during and after their presence. Give the area they have been working in a thorough inspection and make sure no hot spots or small fires have been missed.


During training sessions, in addition to practicing fire procedures, some time should be devoted to emphasising simple fire precautions to stop fires happening. Not only is fire training in most premises required under law, it also makes sense, half an hour spent training may prevent the fire in the first place and can save lives. For further information go to Staff fire safety training.

Arson Prevention

Arson is the single most common cause of fire in business premises and 45% of all serious fires are a result of arson. Much of this is not targeted and the vast majority of arson attacks are down to opportunist vandalism. Apart from the need to comply with the law, the Responsible Person has a duty to reduce this risk to as low as reasonably possible. Information to assist you can be found on How to Combat Arson


February 9, 2022[Last updated: February 9, 2022]

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