A man checking the safety of a window in a tower block. Image by Professor Paul Wenham-Clarke

What is a Responsible Person?

You might have seen the words ‘Responsible Person’ when reading about fire safety in tower blocks. 
It’s a role that is required by law.  Any premises (buildings that are used for business purposes, including rented accommodation) must have someone nominated as their Responsible Person.

What does the law say?

The Fire Safety Regulatory Reform Order, a law that came into force in 2005, says that landlords must ‘take reasonable steps to reduce the risk from fire and make sure people can safely escape if there is a fire’.

The Responsible Person is the person whose duty it is to take those steps. It may be the landlord themselves or someone they have employed to take the duties on.

The Responsible Person makes sure that:

  • the Fire Risk Assessment is conducted regularly
  • the Fire Risk Report is kept up to date (and ideally shared with tenants)
  • fire escape routes are effective and clearly signposted.

If the Fire Risk Assessment shows that there is a fire risk in the building, the Responsible Person must arrange for it to be fixed within 28 days.

What if there’s no Responsible Person for my tower block?

There might be a Responsible Person, but you haven’t noticed: it’s quite possible that they have been doing their tasks regularly without you noticing.

So as a first step, contact your landlord, managing agent, or Residents’ Association to check.

If there is no Responsible Person in place: notify your landlord that this is a requirement as set out in the Fire Safety Regulatory Reform Order. You can send them this link to the relevant law.

If you have pointed out the need for a Responsible Person and one has still not been appointed, you can report this to your local fire brigade, who will contact your landlord about it, and take legal action if need be.

If you are worried about your landlord’s approach to fire safety, joining or setting up a Residents’ Action group might be a good start, so you can discuss together what is needed and then approach your landlord as a group.

Related guides

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Tools you can use

Contacting your landlord

Tips and letter templates to help you communicate with your landlord when there’s something wrong, or you want to find out more.
A woman holding a clipboard and looking at fire safety signs. Image by Professor Paul Wenham-Clarke A woman holding a clipboard and looking at fire safety signs. Image by Professor Paul Wenham-Clarke

Reference

What is a fire risk assessment?

Every tower block should have regular Fire Risk Assessments – they’re a legal requirement. But what does it mean for you, the tenant?

Guide

The corridors of my tower block are always blocked with things like buggies and furniture – are they a fire risk?

It’s important that corridors are kept clear because in case of emergency, everyone needs to be able to make a quick exit.
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Tools you can use

Starting or joining a Residents’ Association or an Action Group

Joining together with other residents in your block or community can make you much more powerful.
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Guide

Is the gas safe in my tower block?

Gas safety is important in every home, but in tower blocks there are additional reasons for checking that everything is secure.

Image credit