Primary Authority Scheme

If you own, manage or operate a business, charity or other organisation, you need to comply with fire safety laws. The main law is the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 which applies across England and Wales.

From 6 April 2014, Fire and Rescue Services in England and Wales have been able to enter into partnerships with businesses, charities, or other organisations (which operate across more than one local authority fire enforcement area) to become their key point of contact for fire safety regulation advice.

The aim of the fire services Primary Authority Partnership scheme is for fire services to develop effective partnerships with businesses that achieve a national consistency in delivering fire safety advice.

The scheme also allows fire authorities to recover costs from its partner organisations.

An example of how Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service recovers its costs with partner organisations:

60 hours of support would generate a fee of £4500 per year including expenses paid in advance. Should 60 hours of support be exceeded then an hourly rate of £75ph plus expenses will be invoiced.

Key elements of primary authority schemes

  • Providing reliable and consistent regulatory advice that the business requires in relation to fire safety.

  • If a fire and rescue service has concerns about how a business, which has a Primary Authority partnership with a different fire and rescue service, is complying with fire safety regulations it will discuss the issue with the Primary Authority at an early stage.

  • If a fire and rescue service believes that there is a statutory requirement for taking enforcement action it must notify the Primary Authority of the action it proposes to take. However, in some cases there will be a need for enforcement action to proceed immediately, for example where action is needed urgently to ensure the safety of employees or members of the public.

  • Where actions of a business are potentially subject to enforcement action by a local fire and rescue service they must first liaise with the primary authority before any action is taken.

  • If there is disagreement over whether proposed enforcement action is consistent with the advice given by the Primary Authority, the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) is empowered to determine what, if any, action should be taken.

Who can enter into a primary authority scheme?

The Primary Authority scheme is open to any business, charity or other organisation that is regulated by two or more fire and rescue services under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order, 2005.

A Primary Authority Scheme is most likely to benefit a business with premises in a number of local authority areas.

You can choose any fire and rescue service you would like to enter into a Primary Authority Scheme with; it does not have to be the one nearest to your head office or in the county where you have the greatest number of outlets.

Remember, a Primary Authority Scheme is a partnership arrangement so you should take time to ensure that the fire and rescue service that you choose to partner with is right for your business and can offer what you are hoping to get out of the scheme.

For more information on entering a Primary Authority partnership with Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service you can email any of the following;

For more information about Primary Authorities, visit the website (opens in a new tab).

An overview of the Primary Authority Scheme is available online (opens in a new tab).