Fire Safety Duties
Certain fire safety duties apply to premises used in whole or in part
- for the provision of sleeping accommodation (other than a single private residence);
- as institutions providing treatment or care;
- for entertainment recreation or instruction;
- for any purpose of clubs, societies or associations;
- for training, teaching or research;
- for any purpose involving access by members of the public whether or not for payment or not.
It is the duty of every person having control over the above types of premises to take all reasonable measures to guard against the outbreak of fire on such premises and to ensure as far as is reasonably practicable the safety of persons on the premises in the event of an outbreak of fire.
.A fire safety duty is imposed on every person who is on the above premises, to conduct himself in such a way as to ensure in so far as reasonably practicable that no person is exposed to danger from fire, due to any act or omission on his part. The fire safety authority may give advice in relation to the fulfilment of the duty.
Fire Safety Notice
A fire safety notice may be served in relation to potentially dangerous buildings. A potentially dangerous building means any building which would, in the event of a fire, constitute a serious danger to life for any of the following reasons—
- the fact that large numbers of persons habitually resort thereto or are accommodated therein;
- the absence of any or any adequate appliances or fittings for extinguishing fires occurring in the building, for enabling the occupants to escape on the occurrence of a fire, for the automatic detection of an outbreak of fire, for giving warning to persons in case of fire, for securing that the means of escape can be safely and effectively used at all times, or for emergency lighting;
- the flammable nature of the materials of which the building is made;
- the flammable nature of the furniture, furnishings and fittings in the building;
- the absence of adequate means of egress from the building;
- the absence of any or any adequate notices as to the procedure which should be followed in the event of fire;
- the flammable, explosive or potentially explosive nature of anything used, stored or deposited within the building;
- the fact that a fire therein would be likely to spread rapidly within the building or to other premises;
- the fact that any power supply or lighting system with which the building is provided is defective, inadequate or inadequately maintained;
- the fact that any heating or ventilating system with which the building is provided is defective or inadequately maintained or presents a fire hazard; or
- any similar reason.
A building includes any part of a building but does not include a premises consisting of a dwelling house occupied as a single dwelling and certain other premises, covered by other health and safety legislation.
Each fire authority shall keep at its offices a register of fire safety notices served by it and the register shall be open to inspection by any person at all reasonable times.
A fire safety notice may be served on the owner or occupier of a potentially dangerous building. The fire safety notice in relation to a building may
- prohibit the use of the building, or a specified part of the building, for the purpose or any of the purposes specified in the notice;
- prohibit the use of the building, or a specified part of the building, for the purpose or any of the purposes specified in the notice unless or until specified precautions are taken to the satisfaction of the fire authority whether by the provision in the building of specified appliances or fittings or by the execution of specified structural alterations or additions to the building, or by the removal from the building of furniture, furnishings, fittings or any other material or thing, or by the doing in relation to the building or its contents of any other thing whatsoever.
Fire Safety Requirements I
A fire safety notice may impose on the owner or occupier of a building requirements as to—
- the provision and maintenance of exit signs, emergency lighting and notices as to the procedure to be followed in the event of fire;
- the arrangements to be made for the provision and maintenance of equipment and fittings for fire detection, fire prevention, the extinguishing of fires, the giving of warning in case of fire, and for securing that the means of escape can be safely and effectively used at all material times;
- the installation, maintenance and use of the power, lighting, heating and ventilating systems of the building;
- the arrangements to be made for the safe storage of flammable, explosive or potentially explosive articles or materials used, stored or deposited in the building;
- the measures to be taken for securing that persons employed in the building receive appropriate instruction or training in fire safety, and in what to do in the event of a fire, and that records are kept of such instruction or training;
- the holding of fire safety evacuation drills at specified intervals and that records are kept of such drills;
- the nomination of an appropriate person or persons employed in the building to have responsibility for fire safety measures in the building; and limiting the number of persons who may be in the building at any one time.
Where a fire safety notice requires the carrying out of any work and the owner or occupier alleges that the whole or part of the expense of the work should be borne by the occupier or owner, he may apply to the District Court for an order concerning the expenses or their apportionment and the Court shall have jurisdiction to make such order as it thinks just.
Fire Saftey Requirements II
Where a fire authority is of the opinion that a flammable, explosive or potentially explosive substance is used, stored or deposited adjacent to buildings in such a manner as to represent a serious danger to life, the authority may serve a fire safety notice on the owner or occupier of the land on which the substance is used, stored or deposited requiring the taking of specified measures to reduce the danger to a reasonable level.
A fire safety notice may specify a time within which any requirement shall be complied with.
The Fire Authority may require the closure of premises where there is an immediate and serious risk relating to fire safety or the safety of persons. A closure notice is to state the opinion above, specify the matters in relation to which the risk arise and state whether in the opinion of the Authority there is a contravention of the Fire Safety Act. It may direct that activities to which the notice relates, must be discontinued
A closure notice may take effect immediately. There is provision for appeal against the notice. In some cases, the effect of the notice may be suspended while the appeal is pending. The appeal must be taken within seven days to the District Court. The District Court may vary or confirm the notice.
An appeal may be brought to the District Court against the fire safety notice on the grounds that
- the building is not a potentially dangerous building;
- that the applicant is not the owner or occupier of the building
- that the notice is unreasonable because of the improbability of a fire occurring in the building or the improbability of serious danger to life arising from storage of certain flammable dangerous or flammable substances;
- compliance would be unreasonably expensive or unreasonably interfere with the use and enjoyment of the land;
- that the notice specified in an unreasonably short time in which to effect compliance.
The Court may confirm, annul or confirms the notice, subject to modifications, alterations or additions. In the latter case, the notice shall have effect subject to such modifications, alterations or additions. The notice shall not have effect until the expiration of fourteen days from the date of service of the notice, or if an appeal is taken and the notice is confirmed, with or without modifications, the date upon which the decision of the Court is pronounced.
An appeal against the notice may be taken and determined under this section and an appeal pending under that Act may be continued and determined under this section by the owner or occupier of the building as if, in either case, this section were in force on the date of service of the notice.
Powers of Authority
Fire authorities may enter at all reasonable times and expect lands and buildings for the purpose of the legislation. They may inspect water supplies and records required to be kept. They may require owners, occupiers (or employees) to give information relating to the use of the land or building, the number of persons habitually employed or accommodated, details of substances and materials from which the building is made, the method of construction, and any other matter which they consider relevant. A notice may be served by a fire authority on the owner or occupier of premises, requiring the supply of plans and other information as required. Owners have a duty to comply.
An authorised person may enter premises together with others required to render assistance and equipment as necessary, in order to inspect and test ventilation, heating, power and lighting equipment as well as materials and substances stored on land. They may take samples. It is an offence to refuse to permit authorised personnel to enter, to obstruct or impede them, to willfully or recklessly give false or misleading information or to fail to comply with a requirement.
A fire authority may apply to the High Court for an order prohibiting the use of premises, in the event that there is a serious risk such that the use of the land or building should be restricted or prohibited until some specific measures are taken to reduce the risk to a reasonable level. The court order may issue an order restricting or prohibiting the use of the premises.
Fire authorities are empowered to carry out or assist in operations of an emergency nature, whether or not fire risk is involved. Each fire authority which maintains a fire brigade shall prepare (and, as occasion requires, revise) plans for fire and emergency operations showing the provision made by it in respect of organisation, appliances, equipment, fire stations, water supplies and extinguishing agents, training, operational procedure and such other matters as may be relevant, and for dealing with operations of an emergency nature.
A copy of every plan made or revised shall be furnished by the fire authority to the Minister who may if he thinks proper, direct that plans of adjoining authorities be co-ordinated. The making and revision of a plan is reserved to the elected members.
Regulations for Potentially Dangerous Buildings
The Minister may make regulation in relation to the precautions to be taken on premises which are potentially dangerous premises. The regulations may relate to
- provision of fire exit signs, emergency lighting, notices and procedures;
- the provision, maintenance and keeping free of obstructions in case of fire;
- provision and maintenance of means a securing escape routes;
- holding of fire safety drills and keeping of records;
- the internal construction of premises and materials;
- the maximum number of persons may be present at the premises.
The 2003 Act provides for statutory recognition of codes of practice by the Department relating to fire safety. Code of practice for safety at indoor concerts has been published.