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Fire Certificates

QUESTION: Is it true that I no longer need a fire certificate for my building?

No. A fire certificate is still required. However, on 1 April 2006 the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Regulations come into force and fire certificates will be abolished and replaced by a risk assessment approach. It will be the duty of the ‘responsible person’ to conduct a risk assessment and maintain fire precautions.

The responsible person must keep fire assessment under review and provide information and training to employees.

The responsible person will usually be an employer. However, in a residential or commercial building with common parts it would be the landlord. A person with obligations for maintenance or health and safety will also be a responsible person. So in multilet buildings there is likely to be more than one responsible person and the owner, tenants and managing agents will have to co-operate.

The fire authority is usually the enforcing authority. It can carry out spot checks and issue three types of notices:

1. An alterations notice stating that the premises would constitute a serious hazard if any changes were made.
2. An enforcement notice stating the responsible person has failed to comply with the regulations and requiring steps be taken to remedy failures within a specified period.
3. A prohibition notice directing that the risk is so serious that use of the premises should be prohibited or restricted until the matters specified have been rectified.

The onus is on the responsible person to prove that he or she did everything reasonable to comply. Penalties range from a fine of up to £5,000 in the magistrates court to an unlimited fine and up to two years’ imprisonment.

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