Responsibility for fire safety

The University is committed to providing a high standard of fire safety in all of its properties. The aim is to provide for effective fire safety management throughout the University, by setting auditable Fire Standards, with guidance on how to meet them. This guidance provides one way of meeting the requirements of the first fire standard “Roles and Responsibilities”.   

The University must also comply with its statutory responsibilities under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, which applies to all of our properties. One of the key requirements is that there must be a person responsible for fire safety, who is the person who has control of the property.  

This ‘Responsible Person’ is The Head of Department, or Faculty Board Chair, or Museum Director, acting on behalf of the Vice Chancellor. 

At least one competent person should be appointed by each department as a Departmental Fire Officer to ensure that the requirements of the Fire Safety Policy and Standards are met.

At individual building level at least one person should be appointed as a Competent Person, who has sufficient training and experience or knowledge and other qualities to help the Departmental fire Officer carry out their fire safety duties.  

In addition to the Departmental fire Officer, the University employs a range of Competent Persons; Facilities Management, Estates Technical Staff, Direct Labour Organisation, Divisional and Area Safety Officers and the University Fire Officer and Assistant Fire Officer, all of whom can be called upon to give help or advice.  

The Fire Standards are designed to give the Responsible Persons and Competent Persons a structured set of “minimum standards” to cover all the areas of fire prevention, fire protection and response to ensure the safety of all occupiers.  

The existing fire precautions within our properties have been provided by the University Estates services to ensure the safety of staff, students, visitors and other relevant people. However the management of these fire safety provisions is of utmost importance.  

The management of fire safety includes the provision of an up-to-date fire risk assessment, regular checks, which should ensure that the exit routes are clear, exit doors are available, lights and emergency lights are working, the fire alarm is working and extinguishers are in place and serviced.  

If contractors are at work they should be informed of the fire evacuation procedures and if they are accessing areas such as roof voids or plant rooms they must be made to inform the manager before work and when they have finished. 


The Responsible Person must make arrangements for the effective planning, organisation, control, monitoring and review of the preventive and protective measures. 


Responsible Persons will need to ensure that there is a reporting mechanism that allows them to oversee this requirement, either by committee report or direct reporting. 

The preventative and protective measures in our buildings are becoming increasingly sophisticated and complex, so arrangements need to be in place to ensure that procedures for the safe evacuation of occupants and the mechanical and electrical provisions will work effectively in the event of a fire.   

To do this the responsible person needs to make sure that all the testing and maintenance regimes are in place for such things as fire alarm systems, sprinkler systems, smoke extract, emergency lighting, fire-fighting equipment, fire curtains etc.  

The division of responsibilities for repairs and maintenance between the Buildings and Estates Sub-committee (BESC) and a unit occupying University space are based on that between a landlord and a tenant. Details can be found in the Estates Services Standing Orders and it’s guide; Further information on the design, installation and commissioning of buildings and building services is available in the suite of philosophy documents, which is published on the Estates Services website. 

In multi-occupied buildings, each department is responsible for the areas they occupy and should produce their own fire risk assessment for them. The department that “owns” the building is responsible for the common areas and the shared systems and fire safety devices that are provided for the building. 

Where Facilities management are contracted to undertake the fire risk assessment for the building, they are acting as competent persons on behalf of the occupying departments. 

If the department that “owns” the building becomes a minority occupier, a handover of responsibility to the major occupier may be formally undertaken. 

Occupants, managers and fire wardens will need to have induction and further training to understand their responsibilities in case of fire.  

All the above will need to be monitored and reviewed to ensure the continuing safety of occupants and fire fighters in the event of a fire occurring.