Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005

In the United Kingdom fire safety was previously covered by about seventy pieces of fire safety legislation, the principal ones being the Fire Precautions Act 1961 and the Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations 1997/1999. In 2001 it was therefore decided the legislation needed to be to simplified. This was achieved with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 in England and Wales.

In Scotland, separate fire service and fire safety legislation was introduced: the Fire Safety (Scotland) Regulations 2006 plus a number of other relevant fire safety documents. More information is available at the Scottish Government website.

In Northern Ireland the Fire Safety Regulations (Northern Ireland) were introduced in 2010. More information can be found at Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service.

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 England and Wales

This submission is an overview of the legislation and should be read on conjunction with The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, and the RRO guidance. The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order hereafter will be referred to as the Order in this document. The Order came into force on the 1st October 2006.

The Order is designed to provide a minimum fire safety standard in all non-domestic premises with a few exceptions. If it is a workplace it designates the employer the Responsible Person (RP). If any other person has control to some extent then they could have duties under the Order. If it is not a workplace then any person having control to some extent or the owner and can be designated the Responsible Person. Those persons, or a person acting on their behalf, are required to carry out certain fire safety duties which include ensuring the general fire precautions are satisfactory and conducting a fire risk assessment. If more than five persons are employed it has to be a written fire risk assessment.

Previous general fire safety legislation

This Order replaced previous fire safety legislation, and any fire certificate issued under the Fire Precautions Act 1971 will cease to have any effect. If a fire certificate had been issued in respect of your premises or the premises were built to recent building regulations, as long as you have made no material alterations and all the physical fire precautions have been properly maintained, then it is unlikely you will need to make any significant improvements to your existing physical fire protection arrangements to comply with the Order.

However, you must still carry out a fire risk assessment and keep it up to date to ensure that all the fire precautions in your premises remain current and adequate. If you have previously carried out a fire risk assessment under the Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations 1997/1999 and this assessment has been regularly reviewed then all you will need to do now is update that assessment taking account of the wider scope of the Order.

Your premises may also be subject to the provisions of a licence or registration (e.g. under the Licensing Act 2003). In that case the fire authority may wish to review your risk assessment as part of the licensing approval process. Fire safety conditions within your licence should not be set by a licensing authority where the Order applies.


The risk-assessment based regime requires employers to take action to prevent fires and protect against death and injury of employees and relevant persons, should a fire occur. This was the same duty imposed on employers by the Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations 1999, but under the Order the duty extends beyond workplaces to include all non-domestic premises to which employees or/and relevant persons have access.

To support the Order, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) have published a number of guidance documents to assist you in meeting your responsibilities. They give advice on most types of premises where the duty to undertake a fire safety risk assessment under the Order applies. The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 – A short guide to making your premises safe from fire gives an overview and the following eleven guides will address the following categories of premises.


Main Use

Offices and shops Offices and retail premises (including individual units within larger premises, e.g. shops and restaurants within shopping centres and leisure centres).
Factories and warehouses Factories and warehouse storage premises.
Sleeping accommodation All premises where the main use is to provide sleeping accommodation, e.g. hotels, guest houses, B&Bs, hostels, residential training centres, holiday accommodation and the common areas of flats, maisonettes, HMOs and sheltered housing (other than those providing care – see Residential care premises), but excluding hospitals, residential care premises, places of custody and single private dwellings
Residential care premises Residential care and nursing homes, common areas of sheltered housing (where care is provided) and similar premises, which are permanently staffed and where the primary use is the provision of care rather than healthcare (see Healthcare Premises).
Educational premises Teaching establishments ranging from pre-school through to universities, except the residential parts (see Sleeping accommodation).
Small and medium places
of assembly
Smaller public houses, clubs, restaurants and cafes, village halls, community centres, libraries, marquees, churches and other places of worship or study accommodating up to 300 people.
Large places of assembly

Larger premises where more than 300 people could gather, e.g. shopping centres (not the individual shops), large nightclubs and pubs, exhibition and conference centres, sports stadia, marquees, museums, libraries, churches, cathedrals and other places of worship or study.

Theatres, cinemas and
similar premises
Theatres, cinemas, concert halls and similar premises used primarily for this purpose.
Open air events and venues Open air events, e.g. theme parks, zoos, music concerts, sporting events (not stadia – see Large places of assembly), fairgrounds and county fairs.
Healthcare premises Premises where the primary use is the provision of healthcare (including private), e.g. hospitals, doctors’ surgeries, dentists and other similar healthcare premises.
Transport premises
and facilities
Transportation terminals and interchanges, e.g. airports, railway stations (including sub-surface), transport tunnels, ports, bus and coach stations and similar premises but excluding the means of transport (e.g. trains, buses, planes and ships).
Animal Premises and Stables This guide is for use at all equine establishments, stables, livery yards and other animal establishments and for all employers, proprietors, managers, occupiers and owners.
Means of Escape for Disabled People (Supplementary Guide) This is a supplementary guide and should be read alongside other guides in the Fire Safety Risk Assessment series.
It provides additional information on accessibility and means of escape for disabled people.

The guides have been drafted by MHCLG in co-operation with a group of key stakeholders. Each guide is in two parts; the first part will explain how to undertake a fire safety risk assessment while the second part of each guide will provide further guidance on the fire precautions. The guides are written so as to be readily understood by those who have to comply with the requirements of the Order, not just fire safety experts.

Fire risk assessments can in theory be carried out by the business owners or their representatives if it can be shown that the person carrying out the risk assessment has sufficient understanding of the guidance. Free fire risk assessment forms are available. It is, however, recommended to commission a Fire Risk Assessor if the premises are more complex.



March 28, 2011[Last updated: March 31, 2020]

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