Operating a business in Ireland comes with certain fire safety regualtions to protect your staff and property. While specific requirements vary based on your type of business, building, and number of employees, some general guidelines apply to all. Read on for an overview of key fire safety regulations in Ireland and steps you can take to meet them.
Fire Safety in the Workplace
The primary law covering fire precautions in Irish workplaces is the Fire Services Act 1981. This requires employers to take all reasonable measures to guard against the outbreak and spread of fire on their premises. The Act also gives powers to local authorities and An Garda Siochana related to fire safety enforcement.
More detailed requirements are provided in the Building Regulations 1997 to 2021 around fire detection, alarm systems, emergency lighting, and firefighting equipment. Workplaces must also comply with fire safety provisions in the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005.
Specific fire safety responsibilities for employers include:
- Conducting regular fire risk assessments and acting on the findings
- Providing adequate fire detection and warning systems
- Ensuring escape routes and exits are clearly marked and kept clear at all times
- Having appropriate firefighting equipment available (fire extinguishers, blankets, etc.)
- Maintaining and testing all fire safety systems and equipment
- Appointing and training fire wardens
- Carrying out emergency evacuation drills
- Providing staff fire safety training on induction and periodically thereafter
- Consulting workers on fire precautions in the workplace
Fire Safety Equipment
To meet their legal duties, Irish employers must invest in suitable fire safety equipment. This includes:
- Fire alarm systems: All workplaces should have a suitable fire detection and alarm system. This may range from battery-operated smoke alarms to more sophisticated wired-in fire alarm panels with call points and sounders. The type required will depend on your workplace risk assessment.
- Emergency lighting: These backup lights come on when the main power fails, illuminating escape routes. Emergency lighting is required in most workplaces.
- Fire extinguishers: Workplaces should provide the correct type of fire extinguishers for their level of fire risk. Common extinguisher types are water, foam, CO2 and dry powder. staff should be trained on safe usage.
- Fire blankets: These heavy duty blankets can help smother small fires. They are useful additions in kitchens and labs.
- Exit and emergency exit signs: Clear signage guides people to exits and should be illuminated where necessary.
Other equipment like fire doors, sprinklers and fire hydrants may be required in larger premises. Your fire risk assessor can provide guidance.
Fire Detection and Alarm Systems
Fire detection and alarm systems are vital to alert people of fire so they can safely evacuate. An appropriate system should:
- Detect smoke/heat through devices like smoke detectors, heat detectors and thermal imaging cameras. Positioning is key.
- Trigger loud alarms when fire is detected so everyone is alerted. Sounders/sirens should meet legal volume requirements.
- Have manual call points or break glass units for people to activate alarms.
- Automatically notify the fire service. Systems should interface to monitoring centres or have GSM autodialers.
- Support any hearing impaired persons through visual alarms/strobes.
- Be backed up by an emergency power supply in case of power failure.
The type of system (conventional, addressable, etc.) and coverage required will depend on risk. A specialist contractor can advise and install suitable fire alarms tailored to your premises and occupants.
Maintenance of Escape Routes
Clearly marked, unobstructed escape routes are vital for evacuation in a fire. Employers must ensure:
- Corridors and stairwells on evacuation routes are kept clear at all times.
- Fire doors are not damaged, serviceable, and kept unlocked in the direction of escape while people are on site.
- Escape routes are clearly signed with green running man signs, and directional arrows where needed.
- Exit doors can be easily opened from the inside without keys or specialist knowledge.
- Outdoor paths to final assembly points are well-lit and maintained for safe access.
- Evacuation routes are kept clear of any obstructions or combustible materials.
- Routes are checked as part of daily housekeeping. Issues should be reported and remedied.
Staff and Management Training
Everyone who regularly works in or visits your premises should be given fire safety information and training tailored to their role. Employers must ensure:
- All staff complete basic fire safety induction on their first day, including the emergency plan.
- Key staff like fire wardens receive enhanced training for their duties.
- Fire drills are held periodically so people can practise safe evacuation.
- Training covers risks in the workplace, equipment, exit locations, assembly points, and how to respond if there’s a fire.
- Records are kept of who has received training and when.
- Training is refreshed annually or whenever the evacuation plan changes.
- Visitors and contractors are provided with relevant fire safety advice on arrival.
Following training, staff should be confident in raising the alarm, safely evacuating, using equipment like extinguishers, and performing any special fire duties.
Irish Legislation and Your Obligations
In addition to the Fire Services Act 1981, Building Regulations, and Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, key legislation relating to fire safety includes:
- Fire Services Acts 2003 and 2018 – Updated provisions around fire services, safety, and enforcement.
- Planning and Development Act 2000 – Requires Fire Safety Certificates for certain buildings.
- Building Control Act 1990 – Fire safety related provisions on construction, modification, and public buildings.
Relevant regulations include:
- The Building Regulations 1997 to 2021
- Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007 to 2021.
Non-compliance can lead to fines, injuries, business interruption and damage. Employers must take their fire safety duties seriously.
Fire Safety Experts Ireland
With intricate regulations and standards, maintaining compliance can be challenging. FireStoppers have two decades experience providing complete fire safety services across Ireland.
Our qualified team can conduct fire risk assessments of your premises and provide impartial advice on meeting legal duties. We design, install and maintain tailored fire detection and alarm systems to protect your property and people. We also deliver bespoke fire safety training for staff.
For both passive and active fire precautions, FireStoppers are the trusted experts. Get in touch today to discuss your obligations and how we can help. Keep your business legally fire safe