New Fire Safety Regulations for Businesses in England. Read More

Fire Safety Regulations for General Commercial Buildings

The introduction of new UK Fire Regulations for businesses in England, effective from the 1st October 2023, marks a significant change in the landscape of fire safety management in commercial spaces.

Fire safety is a critical aspect for all commercial buildings, from office complexes to retail centers. With the latest fire safety regulations in England, it’s essential for business owners and facility managers to stay informed and compliant. We offer a comprehensive overview to assist in this transition.

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Key Changes Effective from October 1st, 2023

Commencing October 1st, 2023, commercial buildings will be subject to enhanced fire safety regulations. A key change is the requirement for comprehensive, written fire risk assessments for all commercial properties. This initiative aims to elevate safety standards for both the premises and its occupants.

The new regulations specifically target various commercial properties, including:

  • Multi-story office buildings
  • Retail and shopping complexes
  • Industrial and warehouse facilities
  • Public venues and spaces
  • Holidays Homes

Highlights of the Fire Safety Guidelines for Commercial Buildings:

Fire Risk Assessment (FRA):

A documented fire risk assessment is part of the fire safety regulations and is written in the fire safety order. Professional assessments aligned with current legislation are highly advised. A fire risk assessment outlines the fire safety measures required to lower the risk of fire. Control measures such as fire detections systems and fire alarms, emergency lighting, fire extinguishers, fire evacuation procedures and regular fire drills help to lower the risk to a reasonable level. These are just a few of the fire protection requirements which could be advised during the fire risk assessment. The assessment is the basis of all fire safety on site.

Fire Extinguishers:

Commissioning and placement of appropriate fire extinguishers and fire fighting equipment throughout the building is essential for fire safety. A fire extinguisher survey should be carried out to ascertain which fire extinguishers are required, where to locate them and how many are required. They should be in place to protect the employees and visitors in all commercial premises and multi occupied residential buildings communal areas.

Emergency Lighting:

Emergency lighting is mandatory in all escape routes and crucial areas within a commercial building ensuring safe evacuation during emergencies where there is a likelihood of employees working in the hours of darkness or a poorly lit environment. Emergency lighting will activate when the power fails to the building to illuminate escape routes and fire exits to ensure safe evacuation of employees and visitors.

Protected Escape Routes:

Building regulations and fire safety legislation will ensure that there are protected routes for escape. Building plans will design escape route with fire boarding and fire doors offering 30 minutes minimum protection. Fire doors will be fitted with self closing devices and seals to prevent the spread of heat and smoke through the building. Employees and visitors will be made aware of the routes by fire training and plans.

Fire Alarms

A fire risk assessment will advise on the level of fire alarm system required for the building. Domestic premises will require a minimum of a smoke alarm whereas a commercial premises might require a more advanced fire detection system. They come in many different forms and can be linked to a ARC (alarm receiving centre) to pick up issues even when no employees are present. A fire safety professional would advise this in detail within the fire risk assessment.

Linked Smoke Detectors:

Integrated smoke detection systems are required in all key areas, including corridors, common spaces, and high-risk zones like kitchens, heat detectors are required in kitchens to avoid false activation. Appropriate fire detection system is a requirement to reduce the risk of fire and ensure employees and visitors can escape efficiently.

Regular Maintenance of Heating and Cooling Systems:

Annual inspections, including those using renewable energy sources, are now compulsory. Thorough inspection are required by appropriate service engineers covering the industry standards.

Thumb Turn Locks:

Advised on all exit doors to facilitate rapid and safe evacuation. It is advised the residential buildings also have thumb locks fitted

Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR):

A mandatory check every 5 years to ensure electrical safety. Portable appliance testing (PAT) is also advised to ensure all items plugged into fixed sockets are safe to use and is important fire safety measures. Further information regarding Pat can be obtained by our fire safety professionals.

Regular Safety Audit and Inspection:

Regular inspections of fire safety equipment and escape routes are vital, with findings properly documented. The responsible person for the site should conduct regulate testing of all fire safety equipment on the premises. Weekly and monthly checks are required to be logged in a fire safety log book or similar. The responsible persons on site is a person with training in fire safety.

Specific Policies:

Implementation of specific safety policies, including those related to evacuation of persons with disabilities (PEEPS) should be written and training should be provided to all employees. Training in the use of any specific equipment such as evacuation chairs and sleds is an important part of fire safety and should be documented and recorded.

Other specific policies might be put in place to deal with the risk of flammable materials, electrical equipment, combustible materials within a COSHH storage cupboard etc.

Fire Safety Training

The fire safety order states that all employees are given regular fire safety training. And in addition, you must appoint one or more competent persons to act as fire marshal to assist with fire safety. These fire marshals must attend sufficient fire safety training to remain effective in reducing fire hazards. You must also carry out a fire safety risk assessment and implement and maintain a fire management plan. Fire marshals are normally given the role to ensure equipment is regularly tested, compulsary service requirements are kept up to date and fire safety training and arrangements are communicated to any new employees.

Expert Guidance for Navigating New Regulations

Understanding and implementing these regulations can be complex. Our team at DBC Solutions LTD specialises in commercial fire safety and is equipped to conduct professional fire risk assessments. We offer expert advice to navigate these changes effectively.

Stay Compliant, Stay Safe.

With DBC Solutions LTD, you receive practical advice and guidance to ensure your commercial property adheres to the latest fire safety standards.

We are your one stop shop for a safe environment.