Cometh the hour, cometh the legislation: FIRE correspondent David Wright examines whether, in his words, fire safety law has finally 'come of age'.(Risk Management)


OVER THE LAST TWO DECADES, THERE has been a trend for government to move away from a 'nanny state' and more towards a mature attitude towards and relationship with those for whom it is responsible. After nearly half a century of prescriptive legislation for a wide range of premises, has fire safety law finally come of age and become an agent of society to proportionately manage the risk to its citizens?

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (RR(FS)O) has been in force for just over 18 months. In that period, have fire deaths increased in non-domestic premises? Has there been an increase in the number of fires? Early indications appear to show the answer to both is no.

The RR(FS)O, after a delayed birth, arrived to a relatively muted fanfare, and now forms the backbone for the fire safety regime in the UK. As a piece of regulatory legislation in the fire safety arena it is probably unique. Whereas most fire safety legislation of the last two centuries has been reactive to the extent that 'stable door fire safety legislation' has almost become a cliche, the RR(FS)O was not prompted as a result of a fire disaster. Instead, the regulations could be the first that were not prompted in such a way. Rather, they arrived as a result of sustained pressure from a wide range of stakeholders--unions, professional fire officers, and businesses. Even the government, to its credit, was sold on the idea.

These events also throw up several questions. …

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