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Fire Safety Guide for Businesses with a Shop

Updated: Feb 9

If you manage or own a shop in the UK it is vital that you comply with the fire safety legislation as set out by the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (England and Wales). The order offers specific requirements and directives to those who are responsible for the implementation of all safety precautions regarding fire risks. This is the responsible person, at least one of whom is necessary on any business premises. The order provides details regarding the necessary fire risk assessments and fire safety equipment.

Who is Responsible?

If you:

  • Own a domestic premises

  • Are a landlord

  • Are an occupier

  • Are in control of a business premises via a managing role

You are considered a responsible person and are expected to engage in compliance with the 2005 order. In the case of fires, you can be held responsible - and as such are also responsible to help prevent fires.

The Fire Risk Assessment

The fire risk assessment is necessary for any business that has five or more employees (though it is always advised that it is undertaken, even with fewer staff). The fire risk assessment is incredibly helpful as it will inform all the fire safety measures undertaken.

It consists of five steps.

Step 1 - Identify all the potential fire hazards

In order to burn, a fire requires:

  • Oxygen

  • Heat

  • Fuel

Fire hazards provide either heat or fuel.

The most common kinds of hazards providing heat are:

  • Warm lights

  • Naked flames

  • Heaters

  • Electrical equipment

The most common sources of fuel are:

  • Paper

  • Packaging

  • Rubbish

Handling these problems is simple; keep sources of heat apart and ensure environments are regularly kept clear.

Step 2 - Identify those most at risk

The people most commonly 'most at risk' as a result of a fire include:

  • Workers and employees with physical disabilities

  • Workers in specific parts of the premises

  • Workers working in difficult conditions

Step 3 - Evaluate how great the risk is and whether the existing measures of safety are sufficient

Once you've examined the hazards, you should determine whether your general fire precautions provide enough protection. You'll have to consider whether the existing equipment - e.g. safety signage and training - is suitable for the risks you are facing.

Step 4 - Record and log all findings and use these to develop an emergency plan

All of this information has to be logged and recorded appropriately and must be used as part of your emergency plan. Unfortunately, it is entirely possible for a retail environment to be struck by a fire and in case of such events a plan must be set out.

This should:

  • Identify all the relevant people responsible in such a situation

  • Make sure all escape routes are know with training, signage and regular fire drills

  • Have staff members trained as fire wardens

Step 5 - Regularly review and maintain your fire risk assessment and ensure it is regularly updated

It's important that you consistently work to update and maintain your risk assessment. New hazards and dangers could easily emerge overtime and if not taken into account, all previous fire safety planning could be made useless. As such it's vital to ensure your risk assessment is constantly up to date.

Fire Safety Equipment

There are a wide variety of types of fire safety equipment, the more complex or demanding a business the more likely it will require more extensive equipment.

Most businesses will require:

  • Fire fighting equipment such as portable fire extinguishers - that must be the correct type for your business

  • Extinguisher ID signs

  • Fire safety signs

  • Fire safety log book

  • Sprinkler systems

  • Fire action notice signs

  • Fire detection system - including fire alarms that should be given weekly tests

  • Emergency lighting

All of this equipment must be consistently provided annual maintenance to ensure it is functional in a fire emergency. Furthermore, all employees and members of staff must be provided training in the use of equipment.

The Dangers of Failing to Comply

Even the least serious breaches of fire regulations can still earn a fine of up to £5,000, financial penalties for serious offences and non-compliance are unlimited. In the worst case scenario one can face as many as two years of jail time.

This is not to mention the other serious impacts of a fire occurring:

  • Inability to continue trading due to severe damage and financial losses (insolvency is common as a result of fire)

  • Physical and emotional trauma

  • Damage to reputation

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