Meaning of “general fire precautions”

4.—(1) In this Order “general fire precautions” in relation to premises means, subject to paragraph (2)—

(a)measures to reduce the risk of fire on the premises and the risk of the spread of fire on the premises;

(b)measures in relation to the means of escape from the premises;

(c)measures for securing that, at all material times, the means of escape can be safely and effectively used;

(d)measures in relation to the means for fighting fires on the premises;

(e)measures in relation to the means for detecting fire on the premises and giving warning in case of fire on the premises; and

(f)measures in relation to the arrangements for action to be taken in the event of fire on the premises, including—

(i)measures relating to the instruction and training of employees; and

(ii)measures to mitigate the effects of the fire.

(2) The precautions referred to in paragraph (1) do not include special, technical or organisational measures required to be taken or observed in any workplace in connection with the carrying on of any work process, where those measures —

(a)are designed to prevent or reduce the likelihood of fire arising from such a work process or reduce its intensity; and

(b)are required to be taken or observed to ensure compliance with any requirement of the relevant statutory provisions within the meaning given by section 53(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc 1974(1).

(3) In paragraph (2) “work process” means all aspects of work involving, or in connection with—

(a)the use of plant or machinery; or

(b)the use or storage of any dangerous substance.

What the Enforcement Guidance says:

Article 4 sets out the main general fire precautions requirements with respect to
fire-fighting and fire detection, emergency routes and exits, and their maintenance,
including measures to mitigate the effects of fire. However, those safety measures
provided in a workplace in order to prevent or reduce the likelihood of fire arising
directly from a work process (including the storage and use of dangerous substances,
goods or materials) or to reduce its intensity, will remain within the remit of Health
and Safety legislation. The principles of reduction of risk remain and the overarching
objective of the Order is to ensure that relevant persons are safe from fire and enforcing
authorities must act towards this objective.
The purpose of article 4 is to create a clear demarcation between general fire
precautions and other special precautions related to work processes.
Nonetheless some areas of doubt will inevitably arise. Enforcing authorities are advised
to seek local agreement with general health and safety enforcing authorities according
to the circumstances of individual cases and where necessary advise Communities and
Local Government of areas of doubt or cases where agreement cannot be reached. An
agreement has been put in place between the HSE and CFOA with regard to this and
wider issues eg special premises etc which has been issued by the HSE.