Guide

Fire safety and risk assessment

Fire safety and building work

If your commercial property are subject to significant alterations you will need to ensure they comply with the building regulations. This includes when your business premises are being built, extended, materially altered or subject to a relevant change of use.

Building regulations and fire safety

The building regulations affect how fire safety is designed into the building, as well as other aspects of building design, such as structural stability, access, ventilation, energy efficiency, etc.

To comply with the building regulations, you must provide:

  • appropriate early warning of fire and appropriate means of escape
  • measures to resist the spread of fire within the building and from one building to another
  • reasonable access and facilities for the fire and rescue service

The final decision rests with the relevant building control body, either at the local council or an approved inspector.

You should pass information on what fire safety measures have been provided as part of the building work (eg fire doors, smoke detection, sprinklers) to the appropriate person for fire safety to help inform their risk assessment. See duties of the appropriate person for fire safety.

Contractors are required to pass the details of fire safety measures implemented as part of building construction work to help the appropriate person for fire safety with their risk assessment under building regulations. Where this does not happen, the responsible person should actively seek it.

Access a technical booklet on fire safety to help you meet the requirements of building regulations.

Changes to commercial property and fire safety

If you make any alterations to your business premises, you will be responsible for managing the risk you create. You will still have to comply with the planning process and building regulations. You will need to:

  • revisit your fire risk assessment
  • assess how the changes will affect the risk in your premises
  • decide whether your risk management measures are adequate and adopt further measures if necessary

Alterations notices for high-risk buildings

In some high-risk buildings the Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service may issue an 'alterations notice'. This means that if the appropriate person intends to make changes to the property which would significantly increase the risk, they must inform the fire authority. High risk buildings include those that need complex fire safety arrangements or have a higher than normal risk to life.