Fire safety inspections

We regularly inspect premises to make sure they are complying with the law. We inspect around 5,000 premises a year (on average).

This guide will tell you what to expect during an inspection, what we’ll need from you and how to get in touch if you need further information.

What to expect

During an inspection, we want to find out whether you’re prepared in case of fire. We will ask you a few questions and may ask you to provide evidence to support your answers. We will have a look around the premises and check your escape routes.  We may also wish to talk to employees to confirm their level of fire safety awareness.

What we're looking for

During our inspection we will be considering:

  • what you are doing to reduce the risk of fire?
  • what you are doing to reduce the risk of the spread of fire?
  • are there enough escape routes (corridors, stairs and doors) for people in case of fire?
  • what are you doing to make sure that escape routes (corridors, stairs and doors) are safe to use when needed?
  • what are you doing to detect fire and raise an alarm?
  • do people (staff/visitors) understand what to do if fire breaks out?
  • what would you do to fight an outbreak of fire?
  • what are you doing to ensure that the effects of a fire are as small as possible?
  • how are you maintaining your fire safety measures?

We will review the fire safety standards in all or parts of the premises. We will also consider the fire safety measures currently provided against recognised standards.

Documents we may need to see

We may want to see a copy of your:

  • fire risk assessment
  • premises plan
  • emergency evacuation plan
  • testing and maintenance certificates/records
  • staff training plan.

If your business is registered with a Primary Authority for fire safety, please tell us at the earliest opportunity.

For further information, you may wish to read our enforcement policy.

Inspections during Covid-19

Guidance on what to expect from a fire safety inspection during the pandemic

We are committed to ensuring the health, safety and wellbeing of both our staff and members of our communities, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.

In the current situation, we are following government guidance on limiting non-essential contact and, as such, we are taking a risk-based approach to all business fire safety activity. Unless circumstances justify otherwise, we will only inspect premises that are deemed Covid-secure.

Where it is deemed necessary to undertake a physical inspection of the premises, we will provide 48 hours' notice, when it is appropriate and practical to do so.

To minimise time spent at your premises, we may ask for information in advance, such as:

  • your fire risk assessment
  • premises plan
  • emergency evacuation plan
  • testing and maintenance certificates/records
  • staff training plan.

We will put measures in place to keep you safe during our inspection. Some of the measures we’re currently using are:

  • using PPE e.g. gloves, face coverings and hand sanitiser
  • limited numbers of officers visiting locations to carry out an inspection
  • no one showing symptoms of Covid-19
  • regular hand washing and sanitising
  • limiting contact with surfaces as much as possible
  • limiting contact with other people during the inspection
  • maintaining social distancing throughout the inspection (where possible) in accordance with the UK Government guidelines.

In some cases, where it is considered appropriate to do so, an officer will conduct the inspection by phone and this will be explained to you at the time of the call

For further information on how to keep your premises safe read our latest advice on how to ensure the ongoing safety of your premises during coronavirus.

After an inspection

We will inform you of the outcome of the inspection.

If improvements are needed

If we feel that you are not keeping people safe in case of fire we will tell you what you need to do to improve safety. We will take enforcement action that is necessary and proportionate.

We may:

  • give you an informal notice detailing the areas that you need to improve
  • work with your Primary Authority partner, if you have one
  • where serious deficiencies have been identified or a previous informal notice has not been acted on, an enforcement notice will be issued detailing the corrective action needed and a timescale in which you must complete the work.

In all cases, you will have the opportunity to discuss different solutions with us and the timescale required. Further information can be found in our enforcement policy.

If there is a serious risk to life

If there is a serious and imminent risk to life, we can issue a prohibition notice. Parts of, or the entire premises, may be restricted or prohibited until improvements are made.

Alteration notices for higher risk premises

In some higher risk premises, for example, those in which the risk to life can be said to be higher than normal or where particularly complicated fire safety arrangements are needed, we may issue an alterations notice. Under the alterations notice, you must tell us about any changes you plan to make to premises if those changes would create a significant increase in the risk.

An alterations notice does not mean you have failed to meet your fire safety duties.

We are required by law to maintain a public register of any statutory notices served. See the register.

Inspecting your business

We have the power to enter any premises at any reasonable time if an inspector believes it's necessary. If you're unsure if an inspector is genuine read our advice on how to verify someone is from the fire service

We target our resources at premises whose activities or the people who occupy it are at the most serious risk. We may also inspect a premises following a fire or if someone has raised a fire safety concern. 

You can find out more by reading the full details of the fire safety order.