Fire Safety Blog Series – The Responsible, Competent & Relevant Person
In this short blog post (part of the Fire Safety Blog Series), I’m going to take a quick look at the role of the “Responsible Person”, the “Competent Person” & the “Relevant Person”.
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, came into force in October 2006. As well as amending & revoking dozens of pieces of earlier fire safety related legislation, it gave rise to the terms “Responsible Person”, “Competent Person” & “Relevant Person”. So just what are these roles and what do they mean?
Table of contents
The Responsible Person
The “Responsible Person” has overall responsibility for fire safety at a businesses or other non-domestic premises. To put this into context, non-domestic premises are defined within the Order as being;
- all workplaces and commercial premises,
- all premises where the public have access,
- the common areas of multi-occupied residential buildings.
Within the Order, Article 3 states that the Responsible Person will either be;
- the employer (note that this can also be a business & not an individual as, from a legal point of view, it’s the company that has control, not the employee), or
- the owner, or
- the landlord, or
- an occupier, or
- anyone else with control of the premises. For example a facilities manager, building manager, managing agent or risk assessor.
Where there is more than one Responsible Person, they should work together to meet their responsibilities (e.g. in a shared office building). Where there are common or shared areas, such as entrances, landings and stairways, the Responsible Person will be the landlord, freeholder or managing agent.
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 also applies when you have paying guests, such as when you run a bed and breakfast, a guest-house or let a self-catering property.
Role of the Responsible Person
Article 8(1) of the Order requires that the Responsible Person take “general fire precautions”. These precautions are defined within article 4 of the Order and include measures;
- to reduce the risk of fire and the risk of spread of fire,
- in relation to means of escape from the premises, including safe escape routes and emergency escape lighting,
- to fight the fire,
- in relation to the detection of fire and the ability to warn of fire.
The Responsible Person is legally required to;
- carry out a fire risk assessment of the premises and review it regularly,
- tell staff or their representatives about the risks they’ve identified,
- put in place, and maintain, appropriate fire safety measures,
- plan for an emergency (i.e. create an Emergency Evacuation Plan and where appropriate a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan for disabled people),
- provide staff information, fire safety instruction and training.
The Competent Person
The Competent Person is also know as the fire risk assessor. They don’t need to be a specialist in the field, but they should have:
- an appropriate education, training, knowledge and experience in the principles of fire safety,
- received appropriate training and/or experience in carrying out fire risk assessments,
- an understanding of fire development and the behaviour of people in fire,
- knowledge of fire hazards & fire risks,
- an understanding of relevant factors associated with occupants at special risk within buildings of the type in question,
- understand of the relevant fire safety legislation and the associated guidance documents.
While there is no defined education level, skill set or specific training for someone to become a Competent Person, they must be able to identify a problem and suitably assess it in relation to the safety systems in place.
The Relevant Person
Article 2 of the Order identifies the Relevant Person(s) as being any person lawfully on the premises, as well as any person in the immediate vicinity of the premises, who will be at affected should a fire break out on the premises.
I genuinely hope that you’ve found this blog post helpful and informative. If you’ve enjoyed this post or have any questions, please feel free to leave a reply below.