What to expect from an audit
Full fire safety audit – What to expect
Audits are carried out following nationally agreed guidelines so that any advice given to you is consistent and proportionate to any risk in your premises.
We believe prevention is better than cure and our inspectors will actively work with you to advise and assist with meeting the required standard. The inspector will explain the reason for the inspection and what you will be required to provide during the inspection.
As the responsible person it is your duty to ensure the health and safety of your employees and others, such as members of the public, who could be affected by the way you run your business. The purpose of an inspection is to sample how you are complying with your legal responsibilities imposed by the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (the Order).
Therefore, the audit is based on questions posed by articles from the Order. For example, Article 11 states that "the responsible person shall make... appropriate arrangements... for the effective planning, organisation control, monitoring and review of preventive and protective measures". So the question posed is "is there effective Fire Safety Management?". Whether the appropriate arrangements are in place will score each business on their compliance level, ranging from 'Non-compliant, Major Deficiency/Risk' to 'Broadly Compliant'.
Documentation required during the audit
During the Audit, the Officer may request to see the following documents (where applicable):
- Fire Risk Assessment
- Fire Precautions Log Book
- Records of Staff Training and Fire Drills
- Records of Testing and Maintenance for all Fire Safety Systems including Fire Alarms, Emergency Lighting, and Fire-fighting Equipment (Extinguishers).
For a template Fire Risk Assessment and Log Book, please see our Fire Risk Assessment page.
Fire Safety Standards within the building
As part of the Audit, the Officer may wish to inspect Fire Safety Standards in all or part of the building in order to confirm the significant findings from your risk assessment. The officer may also wish to talk to members of staff to confirm their level of Fire Safety Awareness.
Summary of powers
An inspector appointed by the Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service and in possession of a written warrant, has powers under the following legislation:
- Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005
- Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (HASWA). Sections 19, 20, 21, 23 and 25 of the Construction (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations made under HASWA.
- Regulations made under the above Acts.
An inspector may do anything necessary for the purpose of carrying this Order into effect and, without prejudice to the generality of these powers, in particular shall have the power to do, at any reasonable time, the following:
- to enter any premises and to inspect the whole or part of the premises and anything in them;
- to make such enquiry as may be necessary to ascertain whether the provisions of this order have been complied with and to identify the responsible person in relation to the premises;
- to require the production of any records, and to take copies of any entry in the records, which are required under any provision of the Order or for the purposes of examination;
- to require any person to give such facilities and assistance to enable the inspector to exercise the powers conferred by the Order;
- to take samples of any articles or substances found on the premises for the purposes of ascertaining their fire resistance or flammability; and
- in the case of any article or substance, to cause it to be dismantled or subjected to any process or test.
Enforcing the Law
Where a breach of fire safety legislation is found, the inspector will decide what action to take. The action will depend on the nature of the breach and will be based on the principles set out in our Enforcement Policy.
Business Safety Checks
If you own or manage a small to medium sized premises, we may contact you regarding a Business Safety Check. Business Safety Checks, also known as Short Fire Safety Audits, are carried out following nationally agreed guidelines so that any advice given to you is consistent and proportionate to any risk in your premises.
We believe prevention is better than cure and our officers will actively work with you to advise and assist with meeting the required standard of fire safety compliance.
Documentation required during the business safety check
During the BSC, the officer may request to see the following documents (where applicable):
- Fire risk assessment
- Fire precautions logbook
- Records of staff training and fire drills
- Records of testing and maintenance for all fire safety systems including fire alarms, emergency lighting, fire-fighting equipment (e.g. extinguishers)
Fire safety standards within the building
As part of the BSC, the officer may wish to view fire safety standards in all or part of the building so please have keys and access codes available on the day.
The officer may also wish to talk to members of staff to confirm their level of Fire Safety awareness.
Potential outcomes following a BSC
There are 3 potential outcomes following a BSC, depending on your fire safety arrangements, this will result in a good, tolerable, or poor.
- If the outcome is Good – the officer may give verbal advice or signpost you to more information to further improve your existing fire safety arrangements, but no further action will follow.
- If the outcome is Tolerable – similarly, the officer may give some verbal advice at the time of the visit. However, because the outcome was tolerable and not good, the officer will refer your premises to our Fire Protection Business Support Team who will contact you to support you in improving your fire safety arrangements from tolerable to good.
- If the outcome is Poor – the officer will refer your premises to a Fire Protection Inspection Officer (FPIO), who will contact you to arrange a Fire Safety Audit.
Why am I being inspected?
Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service’s (NFRS’s) Vision is ‘Creating Safer Communities’. Part of this is fulfilled through a Risk Based Inspection Programme that accurately identifies the highest risk, non-domestic premises within the City of Nottingham and County of Nottinghamshire so that the Service can prioritise the expertise of the Fire Safety Inspectors (FSIs) and Response Crews’ prioritising resources to the level of risk.
The Service will produce this risk-based methodology by collating data from a variety of sources such as, address and business type, level of fire fighter risk, response times, if a primary fire has occurred previously as well as other factors.
The premises will then be weighted based on their risk score from each data set to present a prioritised list of premises. Therefore, low risk premises may be selected for a Business Safety Check with our fire crews as these short audits are expected to provide a swift and simple process when visiting smaller and simple premises, as well as those managed as part of a multi-national chain where management policies and arrangements are in place.
Please note: these visits cannot be requested. However, a letter will be sent to you 4-8 weeks prior to this appointment and your local fire station will typically contact your premises by a phone call or an unannounced site visit.