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Fire Safety for Facilities Management Personnel – Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 – Part 22

December 2, 2019 2:37 pm

Lawrence Webster Forrest (LWF) is a specialist fire engineering and fire risk management consultancy whose aim is to give information on best practice in fire safety for facilities management personnel through this blog series. In part 21, LWF discussed the role of Competent Persons nominated to undertake firefighting activities within their place of work. In part 22, we consider those Competent Persons who have been appointed to assist the Responsible Person.

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (RRFSO), Article 18 (RRFSO) states that the Responsible Person must appoint one or more Competent Persons to assist in taking ‘preventive and protective measures’. There are certain exceptions to this rule, but only where it would be impractical to do so, as in the case of a self-employed person or business partners. In either case, there would be considered to be competence on the part of the self-employed person or one or more of the business partners.

A Responsible Person must have access to competent advice on compliance, as laid out in the RRFSO. The Order goes on to say that the number of Competent Persons appointed and the time available to them must be adequate for the organisation.

Where Competent Persons are employed by the Responsible Person, they should be appointed for this purpose in preference to a third-party advisor. In essence, this means that in-house advice should be used rather than external consultants wherever possible. This doesn’t mean that the Competent Person must carry out the fire risk assessments in person, it may be that an outside body is brought in to undertake the task.

Putting the requirements into a real-life context – The Responsible Person is a Director of a company who employs a Competent Person – a Health and Safety Manager, for example. The Health and Safety Manager might have responsibilities which range across the entire company or group of companies. They must have sufficient knowledge and experience to undertake the post and the co-ordinating of activities relating to fire safety. The Health and Safety Manager might then employ the services of fire engineers or consultants to carry out the fire risk assessments because either the amount of work to be done is too great for the Health and Safety Manager to undertake as an individual, or because the Health and Safety Manager may lack the specialist fire safety knowledge required.

Competence, in this regard, may be in knowing and recognising their own level of ability or lack thereof and the willingness to employ expertise as required.

Of course, a small employer as a Responsible Person may not be able to designate an employee as a full-time Competent Person and so may need to rely on external advice and assistance. The Responsible Person in this case must be on hand to provide all relevant information to the consultant. It is not sufficient to delegate all responsibility to a third-party, whether in-house or external.

In part 23, LWF will discuss the role of Relevant Persons. In the meantime, if you have any queries about your own facilities or wish to discuss this blog series, please contact LWF on freephone 0800 410 1130.

Lawrence Webster Forrest is a fire engineering consultancy based in Surrey with over 25 years’ experience, which provides a wide range of consultancy services to professionals involved in the design, development and construction and operation of buildings.

While care has been taken to ensure that information contained in LWF’s publications is true and correct at the time of publication, changes in circumstances after the time of publication may impact on the accuracy of this information.

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