The Legal Duty of The Responsible Person

FIRE SAFETY in England and Wales is governed by Law under ‘The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

Under ‘Article 3’ of this Law, every ‘Workplace’ must have a designated ‘Responsible Person’ who is responsible to ensure that All necessary measures are in place to;-

  • To prevent Fires from Occurring.
  • To prevent Injury or Death in the event of a  Fire Occurring.

This ‘Fire Safety Order’ is Law and applies to All Workplaces and Commercial Buildings.

Note;  The responsibilities of The Responsible Person are broader than that which is detailed in this Article. This article is concerned specifically with The Fire Alarm System. Other equipment associated with Fire Safety, i.e. Emergency Lights, Fire Fighting equipment etc and other aspects of Fire safety such as risk assessments and training are not included in this article, but will be covered in separate articles or links to them on The London Fire Alarms website.

With respect to ‘The Fire Alarm System’, The name of ‘The Responsible Person’  should be recorded in the Fire Alarm Log Book.


A Summary of the responsibilities of ‘The Responsible Person’ with respect to The Fire Alarm System are as follows:-

  1.  To ensure that a ‘Daily Visual Inspection’ of the ‘Control Indicating Equipment’ (CEI) is carried out in order to check that the indications are ‘normal’. Any faults should be reported to the ‘Fire Alarm Service Engineer’ and recorded in the Fire Alarm Log Book.
  2.  To ensure that  a ‘Weekly Test’  of the Fire Alarm System is carried out by operating a different ‘Manual Call Point’ each week in order to check that the ‘Fire Alarm Devices’ and the ‘Control Indicating Equipment’ are working. This test must be recorded in the ‘Fire Alarm Log Book’. This test should be carried out during ‘Normal Working Hours’ and at the same time each week. This test also includes ensuring that any signal to an ‘Alarm Receiving Centre’ is correctly received.
  3.  To ensure that all ‘False Alarms’ are recorded in the ‘Fire Alarm Log Book’ and to take all necessary precautions to prevent ‘False Alarms’ from occurring, including making sure that all staff and visitors are aware of the presence of any ‘Automatic Fire Detectors’ and of the measures necessary to minimise the likelihood of ‘False Alarms’.
  4.  To ensure that all persons who will have to use the Fire Alarm System are instructed in its use.
  5.  To liase with any workers on the building such as decorators or cleaners so that adverse effects on the Fire Alarm System are prevented. If the building or usage of the building is altered, this may affect the operation of the Fire Alarm System, in which case the Fire Alarm Service Engineer should be advised.
  6.  To ensure that the efficiency of the Fire Alarm System is not compromised by any obstructions that may prevent the movement of Fire Products from reaching the Automatic Fire Detectors, or obscuring or blocking access to Manual Call Points.
  7.  To ensure that all Fire Alarm System documentation, such as drawings and operating instructions are maintained
  8.  To ensure reinstatement of the Fire Alarm System after any work has been carried out on the Fire Alarm System.
  9.  To ensure that, after any Fire Alarm activation, damage or warning, that the Fire Alarm System is serviced.
  10.  To ensure that a suitable stock of spares is kept, i.e. Manual Call Point Glass’s.
  11. To ensure that in the event of a Fire, as soon as possible after the Fire, the Fire Alarm Service Engineer is informed and that a full Service of the whole of the Fire Alarm System is carried out.

It is sometimes the case for someone who is ‘The Responsible Person’ to think that some of the above responsibilities are not very important. But they are all important. The way the British Standards are written is as follows;- Following fires which result in injury or death, investigations are carried out by various authorities in order to pin the blame on someone and to find out how future injury and death can be prevented. The information from these investigations is used by the authors of the British Standards to make the necessary changes. So the standards are good, very important and extremely relevant.

There are over 20,000 fires in commercial premises in England each year, some of which result in injury and death. There are many cases which can be viewed on the internet of Responsible Persons being prosecuted under criminal law, resulting in personal fines and even imprisonment.  Also where non-compliance is found, the insurance companies will not accept liability resulting in expensive legal costs and failed claims.


A note from the author. 
As well as the legal obligations on The Responsible Person, there is also a moral responsibility for the duty of care of others who may be working at the premises (or in adjacent premises) or visiting or, as is sometimes the case, dwelling  in a flat above. These will all be affected by the actions or inactions of the Responsible Person.

 The Responsible Person in weighing up the risk of perhaps compromising some element of safety for a financial saving should seriously consider all risks to any other persons, should an incident occur. It may seem unlikely, but the fact is that there are over 20,000 fires in commercial premises in England each year, some resulting in injury or death. In the neglect of their duty, the responsible person may never have intended any harm and will regret their negligence, but will have to live with it on their conscience. 
It is normally not difficult nor expensive to keep Life Safety Systems like Fire Alarms and Emergency Lights in good working order. If you are yourself an employee and yet responsible for management in the workplace, then why should you carry this burden of legal liability and moral failure?.
For your own sake and for the sake of others, it makes sense to do things properly and ask your line manager for the additional time required and an adequate budget, so as to enable you to diligently discharge the responsibilities that have been given to you as a Responsible Person.