The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order (RRFSO) 2005, which came into force in October 2006, charges the responsible person in control of non-domestic premises and the common areas of a House in Multiple Occupancy (HMO) with the safety of everyone in the building, whether working, visiting or living there. This duty of care includes the provision of emergency lighting. Article 14 (2) (h) of the RRFSO states:
“Emergency routes and exits requiring illumination must be provided with emergency lighting of adequate intensity in the case of failure of their normal lighting”.
Emergency lighting is part of the fire safety provision of a building and cannot be ignored: as noted by the Industry Committee for Emergency Lighting (ICEL), which is the foremost UK authority on emergency lighting and provides third party accreditation for components and products for emergency light fittings under the auspices of the Lighting Industry Association (LIA):
“The legal requirement is that non-domestic buildings must be safe at all times, even if mains power failure occurs. Therefore, nearly all such buildings must have emergency lighting fitted”.
The responsible person
The umbrella standard for emergency lighting is BS 5266-1 (Code of practice for emergency lighting). The British Standards Institution (BSi) guide to this code describes the duties of the “responsible person” as follows:
“The responsible person has to be able to demonstrate that the hardware of fire safety systems and their maintenance are adequate to protect the occupants. Fire protection products and related services should be fit for their purpose and properly installed and maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions or the relevant British Standard.” (A Guide to Emergency Lighting Second Edition, 2012, p 211)
Even though this duty of care can in practice often be shared or delegated, it remains a daunting prospect for lay people who have no knowledge of fire safety and find themselves in the position of being legally accountable for the protection and well being of others in this regard
The responsible person can be anyone who has some control over a building or areas within it, including inter alia facilities management companies, landlords and lettings agents.
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