IFSECInsider-Logo-Square-23

Author Bio ▼

IFSEC Insider, formerly IFSEC Global, is the leading online community and news platform for security and fire safety professionals.
February 14, 2024

Sign up to free email newsletters

Download

Whitepaper: Multi-residential access management – The move to digital

fire safety

Fire Safety Enforcement Notices – What do you need to do?

IFSEC Insider hears from Hannah Eales, Partner at legal firm Kingsley Napley, who provides an overview of fire safety notices, what they are and what happens if not complied with. 

Receiving a fire safety notice can be a worrying thing. In this article, we go back to basics and explain the types of notices that can be served, who serves them and what happens next.

Who serves a fire safety notice?

 Fire Safety notices are usually served by the local Fire and Rescue Service where they have concerns over the fire safety of a premises.  In certain circumstances the Health and Safety Executive or local authority can also issue a notice.  Notices are usually issued following an incident where the Fire and Rescue Service have been called, or where information has been provided to the enforcing authority leading to an inspection of the premises.

 What types of notice are there and why are they served?

Legislation-FireSafety-20The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (“Fire Safety Order”) places responsibilities on the Responsible Person in respect of fire safety.  Under the Order the enforcing authority may issue different types of notice depending on the circumstances.  In determining which type of notice to issue, in my experience, the Fire and Rescue Services are fair and will consider various factors including but not limited to:

  • The nature, circumstances and seriousness of any alleged breach of the Fire Safety Order;
  • The risk of death or serious injury to relevant persons in the event of fire;
  • Any previous history of non-compliance;
  • Any remedial action taken.

Alterations Notice

The enforcing authority may serve on the Responsible Person an Alterations Notice if the authority is of the opinion that the premises-

  • constitute a serious risk to relevant persons (whether due to the features of the premises, their use, any hazard present, or any other circumstances); or
  • may constitute such a risk if a change is made to them or the use to which they are put.

The notice must set out that the authority is of the opinion outlined above and specify the matters which, in their opinion, constitute a risk to any person who is lawfully on the premises and/or any person in the immediate vicinity of the premises who is at risk from a fire on the premises (“relevant persons”), or which may constitute a risk if a change is made to the premises or the use to which the premises is put.

If you receive an Alterations Notice as the Responsible Person, you must, before making any of the following changes which may result in a significant increase in risk, notify the enforcing authority:

  • a change to the premises;
  • a change to the services, fittings or equipment in or on the premises;
  • an increase in the quantities of dangerous substances which are present in or on the premises;
  • a change to the use of the premises.

Some Alterations Notices will include further requirements, such as a requirement to notify the terms of the notice to others with responsibility under the Order.  Each notice should be read and considered carefully and the requirements complied with.  An Alterations Notice is deemed to be in force until such time as it is withdrawn or cancelled by the Court and the issuing of an Alterations Notice does not prevent the enforcing authority from serving an Enforcement Notice or Prohibition Notice in respect of the premises.

Enforcement Notice

If the enforcing authority is of the opinion that the Responsible Person has failed to comply with any provision of the Fire Safety Order the authority may serve an Enforcement Notice.

The Enforcement Notice must:

  • state that the enforcing authority is of the opinion outlined above;
  • specify the provisions of the Fire Safety Order which have not been complied with; and
  • require that person to take steps to remedy the failure within a specified period (not less than 28 days from the date of service of the notice).

The notice may include directions as to the necessary measures to remedy the failings and may give a choice of ways to remedy the contravention.  The enforcing authority may withdraw the notice at any time before the end of the period specified in the notice and they can extend or further extend the period specified in the notice as long as an appeal against the notice is not pending.

Prohibition Notice

If the enforcing authority is of the opinion that use of premises involves or will involve a risk to relevant persons so serious that use of the premises ought to be prohibited or restricted, the authority may serve on the responsible person a Prohibition Notice. This includes an assessment of the risks around anything affecting the relevant persons’ escape from the premises in the event of fire.

A Prohibition Notice must:

  • state that the enforcing authority is of the opinion outlined above;
  • specify the matters which in their opinion give or will give rise to that risk;
  • direct that the use to which the prohibition notice relates is prohibited or restricted to such extent as may be specified in the notice until the specified matters have been remedied.

In similar vein to the Enforcement Notice, the Prohibition Notice may include directions as to the measures which will have to be taken to remedy the matters specified in the notice and again, may give a choice of ways of remedying matters.

If the enforcing authority is of the opinion that the risk of serious personal injury is or may be imminent, the prohibition or restriction specified in the notice will have immediate effect upon service of the notice.  In any other case the prohibition or restriction will take effect at the end of the period specified in the notice.

The enforcing authority can withdraw a Prohibition Notice at any time.

Appeals

A person in receipt of an Alterations, Enforcement or Prohibition notice has 21 days, from the day on which the notice is served, to appeal to the Magistrates’ Court.

The Court can either cancel or affirm the notice and if it affirms the notice, the Court can do so either in its original form or alter the notice as it sees fit.  In respect of an Alterations or Enforcement Notice, any appeal has the effect of suspending the operation of the notice until the appeal is complete or withdrawn.  Where the appeal is in respect of a Prohibition Notice, the bringing of the appeal does not suspend the operation of the notice unless the Court directs.

If the appellant or the enforcing authority is aggrieved by the determination of the Magistrates’ Court in respect of any such appeal they can then appeal the Magistrates’ Court’s decision to the Crown Court.


Further reading: Enhanced duties of responsible persons under the Fire Safety Order: An overview


What happens if you don’t comply with the notice?

There are differing consequences depending on the type of notice issued.  The enforcing authority may consider bringing a prosecution, again considering the seriousness of and the circumstances around the failure to comply, the risk involved, any remedial action taken and any history of non-compliance.

Alterations Notice

Failure to notify the enforcing authority of any changes that may result in a significant increase in risk as outlined above, is an offence under the Fire Safety Order.  Any person guilty of such an offence is liable on conviction in the Magistrates’ Court or Crown Court to an unlimited fine.

Hannah Eales, Partner at Kingsley Napley

Enforcement Notice

A failure to comply with any requirement imposed by an Enforcement Notice is also an offence and any person guilty of such an offence, again, is liable on conviction in the Magistrates’ Court or Crown Court to an unlimited fine.

Prohibition Notice

It is an offence for any person to fail to comply with any prohibition or restriction imposed by a prohibition notice.  Any person guilty of such an offence is liable on conviction in the Magistrates’ Court to an unlimited fine and in the Crown Court to an unlimited fine and/or up to two years in prison.

If in receipt of a Fire Safety Notice and you are unsure whether you should appeal, you should seek legal advice at the earliest opportunity bearing in mind the 21 day period within which to lodge an appeal.

If you do not wish to appeal, you should work with the enforcing authority to remedy the situation and comply with the terms of the particular notice served upon you.  Again, in my experience, Fire and Rescue Services are keen to work with responsible persons to remedy failings and ensure the fire safety of the premises.  Those that bury their heads in the sand and ignore the notice or the requirements of the notice, tend to be the ones who end up facing prosecution down the line.

Hannah Eales is a Regulatory, Health and Safety and Criminal Law Specialist, heading up the Fire Safety team at Kingsley Napley. She can be contacted on [email protected] .


Further reading:

2023 Fire Safety eBook – Grab your free copy!

Download the Fire Safety in 2023 eBook, keeping you up to date with the biggest news and prosecution stories from around the industry. Chapters include important updates such as the Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 and an overview of the new British Standard for the digital management of fire safety information.

Plus, we explore the growing risks of lithium-ion battery fires and hear from experts in disability evacuation and social housing.

FireSafetyeBook-CoverPage-23

Related Topics