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Business fire safety audit

What to expect if your premises are audited by West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service.

An audit is an examination of the premises and other relevant documents (including your fire risk assessment, testing and training records) to determine how the premises are being managed with regard to fire safety. During the audit a score is generated in line with national guidance, which identifies the level of compliance achieved and any action required.

It is the duty of the responsible person/s to adopt a fire risk assessment-based approach to fire safety. This means the responsible person, or anyone who has a level of control of the premises, must:

  • identify the risks from fire and decide how to address them
  • take reasonable precautions to reduce the risk of fire
  • make sure that people can escape safely in the case of a fire
  • regularly review their findings to ensure safe practice is maintained.

We may arrange to visit your premises to undertake a Fire Safety Audit under the Regulatory Reform Order (RRO) 2005 or Fire Safety Order (FSO).

The order applies to virtually all premises and covers nearly every type of building or structure such as:

  • hospitals
  • residential care premises
  • educational premises
  • sleeping accommodation
  • places of assembly
  • shops
  • offices
  • animal premises and stables
  • outdoor events
  • outdoor structures and more.

It does not apply to single private dwellings or individual flats.


The responsibility for compliance lies with anyone who has control of the premises or a degree of control over particular areas.

This includes the employer, a manager or an occupier of a premises, but can be anyone who holds management control.

In some cases, more than one person can be responsible for meeting the duties imposed by the order.

If you are responsible for fire safety, you will need to demonstrate to the West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service (WSFRS) inspecting officer that you have met the duties required by the FSO.

You may be asked to provide evidence of:

  • a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment - written if you employ more than five people
  • action plans related to any significant findings of the fire risk assessment
  • emergency plans for the premises in the event of a fire
  • preventative and protective measures for fire drills and staff fire training records
  • fire safety information for staff
  • fire safety and emergency information for dangerous substances
  • testing records by a competent person of the:
    • fire detection and warning system
    • emergency lighting
    • sprinkler system
    • ventilation system
    • portable firefighting equipment
    • electrical wiring in the building - five-year fixed wiring test/certificate
    • portable appliance testing (PAT).

The inspector may also ask to see other evidence, depending on the circumstances, and wish to talk to members of staff to confirm their level of fire safety awareness.

Help is available if you would like to carry out fire safety training for your staff.

Enforcing the Fire Safety Order

WSFRS enforces the FSO for West Sussex Fire Authority.

The details of any enforcement action we have taken, in line with our statutory responsibilities, will be displayed on the National Enforcement Registers.


You could be fined or go to prison if you don’t follow fire safety regulations. Minor penalties can be up to £5,000. Major penalties can have unlimited fines and up to two years in prison.

Fire safety inspection forms the basis of our protection programme. It is designed to reduce the risk and impact of fire upon our communities, businesses, heritage sites and our environment, and safeguard firefighters responding to such incidents.

A risk-based inspection programme is delivered by staff in the following roles:

  • Business Safety Adviser - trained to Level 3 diploma standard. These advisers visit premises to inform the owner/manager about fire safety provision and also conduct fire safety audits of lower risk and less complex premises.
  • Fire Safety Inspector - trained to Level 4 diploma standard. Inspectors will visit premises, carry out fire safety audits, comment on building regulations applications and make reports based on their findings.
  • Fire Safety Team Leader - trained to Level 4 diploma standard and then further developed to Level 5 diploma. Our team leaders provide day-to-day management of the Business Safety Advisers and Fire Safety Inspectors. They are also the first point of contact with more complex premises.
  • Fire Safety Station Manager - trained to Level 4 diploma standard and then further developed to Level 5 diploma. Our Station Managers provide management support to our area based team leaders.
  • Fire Safety Group Manager - trained to Level 4 diploma standard and then further developed to Level 5 diploma. Our Group Manager provides strategic management support to our station managers and represents the service on a regional and national level for fire safety related matters.

Additional information

Last updated:
23 October 2020
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