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Fire safety risk assessment for small premises

These notes are intended to be jargon free and simple to understand; they will give a few examples to help explain why some of the measures are necessary. Fire safety law can be complex and daunting in large buildings but there are lots of smaller places where the solutions can be simple and not very expensive.

The law does not impose hard and fast prescriptive standards. This guidance is mainly intended to help people who run a business that employs fewer than five people, or maybe it's just you and a partner with no-one working for you. It includes guidance suitable for small B&B, small offices, and shops but if you employ five or more people, have more than one location, need to hold a licence for your type of business, or run a small factory or industrial unit please see the guidance for small to medium premises.

Put simply, if you are responsible for somewhere where people other than your family and friends can visit then fire safety law requires you to do a fire risk assessment and act on the findings.

This is a technical and legal way of saying you should reduce the chances of a fire starting and think about what to do if a fire does start. If you employ five or more people or hold a licence for the premises then you must record the 'significant findings'. It is strongly recommended that people responsible for small premises also keep a written record, in practice this may be less than four pages including the whole risk assessment.

Fire safety law applies to most places except your own home, but it even applies at home if you have paying guests or rent it to people as a holiday home. We aim to encourage compliance by education and advice; we only take enforcement action in the most serious cases. The law applies in full to all relevant places, but the solutions can be simple in small premises. Detailed guidance, including the law itself, can be downloaded from the GOV.UK website.

Nobody really expects a fire to happen to them. Planning in advance not only helps you comply with the law, it will keep you safer and protect your property and business. In many cases where a fire becomes a tragedy it is people's reactions that have contributed so training and information is vital.

Guidance for small premises can be found in the Small premises guide (PDF) and "Do you have paying guests?" (PDF)

Template and example

It must be stressed that these are fictional examples to illustrate some of the areas you should be considering. You will need to do your own risk assessment for your premises but you may use the form as a template and the examples as guidance. Use of the template and guidance does not automatically demonstrate compliance with the law; it is the quality of information, the solutions you provide and day to day running of your business that is important.

All our safety information can be made available in other languages. Please contact 0800 050 2999 to request a copy.

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