As recently advertised in the national and local media, changes to fire safety legislation are due to come into force in October this year. The aim of the reform is to simplify, rationalise and consolidate existing legislation. It will provide for a risk based approach to fire safety. The main effect of the changes will be a move towards greater emphasis on fire prevention in all non-domestic premises. Fire Certificates will be abolished and will cease to have legal status.

The Fire Safety Order covers general fire precautions and other fire safety duties which are needed to protect relevant persons in case of fire in and around most premises. The Order requires fire precautions to be put in place where necessary, and to the extent that it is reasonable and practicable in the circumstances of the case.

Responsibility for complying with the Fire Safety Order will rest with the 'responsible person'. In a workplace, this is the employer and any other person who may have control of any part of the premises, e.g. the occupier or owner. In all other premises the person or people in control of the premises will be responsible. If there is more than one responsible person in any type of premises, all must take all reasonable steps to work with each other.

Such Responsible Persons will have to carry out a fire risk assessment which must focus on the safety in case of fire of all relevant persons. It should pay particular attention to those at special risk, such as the disabled and those with special needs, and must include consideration of any dangerous substance likely to be on the premises. The fire risk assessment will help identify risks that can be removed or reduced and to decide the nature and extent of the general fire precautions needed to be taken to protect people against the fire risks that remain.

In order to assist responsible persons in carrying out fire risk assessments, the Department for Communities and Local Government (formally the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister) is publishing detailed guidance documents.

de Silva Safety Services is able to carry out suitable fire risk assessments and to advise on relevant engineering and management precautions to take to reduce the risk of injury to persons or damage to buildings, from the simple office accommodation to the more complex industrial premises.