Safer Places of Worship

Fire Safety Guidance

Places of worship have a legal responsibility to comply with fire safety legislation. In England and Wales this legislation is known as the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

For places of worship in England and Wales places of worship need to:

  • appoint a responsible person;
  • assess the fire risks in your premises. These must be recorded if you have five or more employees (including volunteers), but it is good practice to record it in any event, regardless of how many people you employ;
  • make sure that a fire can be detected and people warned in a reasonable time;
  • provide appropriate fire fighting equipment, which must be checked and maintained;
  • make sure people can escape safely from your premises and know what to do in the event of a fire.

This section will provide you with guidance to assist your place of worship with meeting the requirements of the legislation.

Fire safety overview

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 replaces all previous fire legislation; it requires all non-domestic premises to appoint a ‘responsible person’ to conduct a fire risk assessment.

Who is a responsible person?

Under the Order, anyone who has control in a building or anyone who has a degree of control over certain areas or systems may be designated a "responsible person". For example:

  • The employer for those parts of premises they have any control over.
  • The managing agent or owner for common parts of a premises or common fire safety equipment such as fire warning systems or sprinklers.
  • The occupier of premises that are not workplaces such as a chairperson in a parish hall.
  • Any other person who has some control over a part of a premises may be the responsible person in so far as that control extends.

Although in many premises the responsible person will be obvious, there may be occasions when a number of people have some responsibility.

Performing a thorough risk assessment and acting on your findings will help to reduce risks, ensure compliance with legislation and could save lives.