Home / Fire safety in the workplace: role of the Responsible Person

Fire safety in the workplace: role of the Responsible Person

Apr 17 2024


There were 7,649 workplace fires between 2022 and 2023 (Morgan Clark). Despite the figure decreasing in recent years, accidents still happen. 

However, in most cases fires and their consequences can be avoided if the Responsible Person has carried out the correct procedures.  

With a Responsible Person managing workplace fire safety, you can drastically lower the likelihood of fires. This means fewer workplace disruptions and potential legal liabilities, safeguarding your business against costly fines and lawsuits. 


Who is a Responsible Person? 

According to the Fire Safety Act 2021, the Responsible Person oversees fire safety within the workplace. It is a legal requirement to appoint one. They play a crucial part in ensuring a safe and secure work environment. If there’s more than one Responsible Person, they work together to meet responsibilities. 

Typically, this role is assumed by the employer. It can also be the building owner or occupier. Sometimes fire safety duties are shared among several individuals or groups within a premises. 


How does a Responsible person manage fire safety in the workplace? 

To manage fire safety in the workplace, the Responsible Person must adhere to the following duties as mandated by the updated Fire Safety Act of 2021:


Carry out fire risk assessments  

Your Responsible Personal must carry out a fire risk assessment of the premises and review it regularly. This assessment identifies potential fire hazards, who’s at risk, and the quality of existing fire safety measures. You could be surrounded by fire hazards without knowing. Common causes of fire in the workplace include: 

  • Faulty electrical wiring  
  • Improper storage of flammable materials 
  • Inadequate emergency lighting 
  • Clutter in the workspace that create fuel for fires 


Implement necessary fire safety measures 

Your Responsible Person needs to make sure your workplace has fire alarms, emergency lights and portable extinguishing equipment, accompanied by informational or directional signs.  

These measures should be tested periodically, typically every 6 or 12 months for the fire alarm and emergency lighting, and annually for portable extinguishing equipment. All emergency exits should be easily identifiable and always accessible with no obstructions.


Create a fire safety plan  

Assigning plans for preventing fires and what to do in the event of a fire is a key duty. The Responsible Person needs to consider evacuation procedures and assembly points. They should inform your peers about fire risks and precautions and revisit these measures every 12 months to ensure they are still effective and appropriate for the premises. 


Provide fire safety information and training  

The Responsible Personal must provide staff with fire safety information and training about evacuations, how to use fire extinguishers and what to do if the alarm goes off. Training should be revisited and ongoing throughout the year.  


Collaborate with fire safety officials 

It’s crucial for the Responsible Person to establish and maintain communication with appropriate fire safety bodies, like the local fire and rescue services. This collaboration could involve facilitating inspections of the premises by granting access or supporting fire safety inquiries and investigations.


Ensure compliance for High-Risk Buildings 

If you’re an employer operating within higher-risk buildings —characterised as being buildings with at least two residential units which are at least 18 meters in height or have at least 7 or more storeys— it’s vital to identify any Accountable Persons linked to the building and establish a collaborative relationship with them.  

Accountable Persons are typically those who have a legal responsibility for the building’s safety in aspects concerning its structure and common areas, often including property managers, building owners or managing agents. 

Your duty includes identifying these individuals or entities to ensure a collaborative effort in maintaining fire safety standards, facilitating the effective execution of all related duties, and ensuring the well-being of your workplace and compliance with fire safety regulations. 


The benefits of being an effective Responsible Person 

Being an effective Responsible Person for fire safety in the workplace means you’re looking after the safety of everyone in your building. This is not only the right thing to do but also keeps you on the right side of the law.  

Following the fire safety rules helps avoid fines and the trouble of being told you can’t use your building until it’s safe. If you get notices from fire safety authorities, like Alterations or Enforcement Notices, responding in a timely manner is imperative. If evidence of acting upon the notices is provided promptly, a Prohibition Notice may not be issued, which can shut down parts of your business until you fix the safety issues. 

Looking after fire safety properly can also mean you pay less for insurance, since companies like to know you’re keeping risks low. Plus, it can stop you from losing money or having to stop work if there’s a fire, keeping your business running smoothly.


Peace of mind in fire safety: let’s get started 

Understanding fire safety in the workplace might seem overwhelming, but we’re here to help. Our team works closely with your Responsible Person to carry out detailed fire risk assessments, put the right safety measures in place, and develop comprehensive fire safety plans. 

Don’t wait for an emergency to think about fire safety. Give yourself peace of mind and make your workplace safer now. 

Contact us today to book a discovery call.