Persons of Interest (Part 3): Identifying Responsible Persons
For the purpose of this blog, we will not be referring to the Responsible Person (“RP”) in the context of workplaces and will be focusing on RPs in relation to other premises (i.e. residential buildings).
Identifying Responsible Persons
Under Article 3 of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (“FSO 2005”), an RP is in relation to any other premises (i.e., residential buildings);
- The person who has control of the premises (an occupier or otherwise) or;
- The owner of the non-domestic parts of the building where the person in control of the premises does not have control.
‘Control’: Where a person has by virtue of any contract or tenancy an obligation of any extent in relation to the maintenance or repair of any premises (including anything in or on the premises) or the safety of the premises. (Article 5(4) FSO 2005).
‘Premises’: includes any place and any installation on land (Article 2 FSO 2005) however does not include domestic premises (Article 6(1) FSO 2005) which are defined as any premises occupied as a private dwelling. Non-domestic parts of multi-occupied residential buildings are therefore included within the definition of a premises but not the individual apartments.
For the non-domestic parts of residential premises, the RP is likely to be a Building owner, Landlord, Leaseholders with a share of the freehold, Management Companies (including RMC’s), RTMs and Managing Agents.
Managing Agents can be an RP in contrast with the position with AP’s as here a person with control includes those that is responsible for maintaining the premises by virtue of a contract as well as a tenancy (i.e., a management agreement).
It is possible for there to be more than one RP and if so, parties will need to co-operate and co-ordinate with other RPs to comply with the requirements of the FSO 2005.
Obligations of a Responsible Person
Article 5 FSO 2005 provides that where the premises is not a workplace, the RP must ensure that any duty imposed by Articles 8 – 22 or by any regulations made under Article 24 are complied with so far as the requirements relate to matters within his control.
Some of the key duties that fall to an RP are as follows:
- Article 9 FSO 2005: Take general fire precautions to ensure that the premises are safe.
- Undertake fire risk assessments of the premises for the purpose of identifying general fire precautions and review this regularly so as to keep it up to date under Article 9 FSO 2005.
- Article 11 FSO 2005: Make and give effect to such arrangements as are appropriate for the effective planning, organisation, control, and review of preventive and protective measures.
- Article 12 FSO 2005: Where a dangerous substance is present on the premises, ensure that the risk to relevant persons is eliminated or reduced so far is as reasonably practicable.
- Article 13 FSO 2005: Ensure that the premises is equipped with appropriate fire-fighting equipment and with fire detectors and alarms.
- Article 14 FSO 2005: Ensure that routes to emergency exits from the premises and exists are kept clear at all times.
- Article 15 FSA 2005: The RP must establish and give effect to procedures to be followed in the event of serious and imminent danger to relevant persons.
- Article 16 FSA 2005: Ensure that information on emergency arrangements are available to relevant persons with suitable warnings being provided and displayed at the premises.
- Article 17 FSA 2005: Ensure that the premises and any facilities, equipment and devices are subject to a suitable system of maintenance and are in efficient working order / good repair.
- Article 18 FSA 2005: Appoint one or more competent persons to assist them in undertaking preventive and protective measures.
- Article 19 FSA 2005: Provide any employees with comprehensive and relevant information on the building safety risks and preventive and protective measures.
- Article 20 and 21 FSA 2005: Ensure that any employees from an outside undertaking, working on the premises, are provided with information on the risks to their employees and ensure that all employees are provided with adequate safety training.
- Article 22 FSA 2005: Where two or more RP’s share duties, co-operate with each other to enable them to comply with the requirements and prohibitions imposed on them by FSA 2005.
‘Relevant persons’: any person who is or may be lawfully on the premises and any person in the immediate vicinity of the premises who is at risk from a fire on the premises (Article 2 FSO 2005).
Section 156 BSA 2022 has amended various provisions within the FSO 2005 and new fire safety guidance is due to come into force on 1 October 2023. Guidance to support RPs understand the new requirements will be published prior to this.
Residents of the premises should look to comply with any fire safety measures that have been put in place and report any fire safety defects to the RP.
Links with APs/PAPs
In some buildings, an AP/PAP will also be the RP meaning their roles will overlap. Where this is not the case and the obligations are on different parties, building safety information must be shared across the roles (whilst meeting data protection requirements).
Section 156 BSA 2022 confirms that RPs must take reasonable steps to ascertain whether there are one or more APs in relation to the premises and if there are, they must co-operate with each AP for the purpose of the AP carrying out their duties.
Repercussions of breaches of duties
If an RP breaches their duties under the FSO 2005, they may be subject to an Enforcement or Prohibition Notice or it could result in prosecution. The local Fire and Rescue authorities have the right to inspect premises and can issue Notices informing the RP of the changes that need to be made.
Governing Legislation: Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 Where this is applicable: In all workplaces, commercial buildings, and non-domestic parts of multi-occupied residential buildings