Fire certificates for buildings and premises in Jersey
01 June 2020
The Fire Precautions (Jersey) Law 1977 (the "Law") was introduced to provide protection to persons from fire risks and is enforced by the States of Jersey Fire and Rescue Service (the "SJFRS").
The Law was previously aimed at commercial properties but, since it was revised on 1 January 2013, it now includes provisions for residential premises, specifically houses in multiple occupation ("HMOs") which now require a fire certificate.
Which premises require a fire certificate?
The Fire Precautions (Designated Premises) (Jersey) Regulations (the "Regulations") detail the premises which must hold a fire certificate, namely:
- Care or nursing homes;
- Hostels, tourist accommodation and lodging houses;
- Residential schools; and
- Houses in multiple occupation.
Premises which need a fire certificate are set out in greater detail in Article 2 of the Law.
Hotels, tourist accommodation, lodging houses and residential schools
The above premises need a fire certificate if they:
- Provide sleeping accommodation for more than five people, some of which is above the first floor or below the ground floor, or
- Provide sleeping accommodation for more than forty people.
Houses in multiple occupation
If you own or lease buildings occupied by people who do not form a single household, your building may be classed as an HMO. Persons are not regarded as forming a single household unless they are all members of the same family.
A building may be classified as a HMO and thus require a fire certificate if any of the following conditions apply:
- The building, or part of the building, is owned or leased and has been converted into flats or bedsits;
- More than five people live in the building and one or more of them sleep below the ground floor or above the first floor;
- More than forty people live in the building on any floor;
- More than one of the flats/bedsits shares a toilet, bathroom or cooking facilities with another flat or bedsit; and
- The building has been converted into a block of self-contained flats, of which fewer than two-thirds are owner-occupied.
Contents of a fire certificate
Every fire certificate issued in relation to any premises will specify the following:
- The particular use of the premises;
- The means of fire escape;
- The means of securing the fire escape;
- The type, number and location of the fire-fighting equipment for use by persons in the building; and
- The type, number and location of the means of warning persons in case of a fire.
The Minister for Home Affairs (the "Minister") may, as he deems necessary, impose conditions on a fire certificate. For example, to limit the number of persons who may be in the premises at any one time. Article 4 of the Law goes into further detail.
The fire certificate will be issued/sent to the 'responsible person' (i.e. in relation to a workplace, the employer if the workplace is to any extent under his/her control or in relation to any premises, the person who has control of the premises (as occupier or otherwise) (the "Responsible Person")) and they must ensure that so long as the fire certificate is in force:
- A copy of the front page of the certificate and any plan are kept at all times at the premises and displayed in such a position that enables the certificate to be inspected at any time by any of the occupiers of the premises; and
- The original certificate and any records required to be kept under the certificate are kept safe and available for inspection at any reasonable time by the Minister, an inspector or any occupier of the premises.
If the Responsible Person fails to comply with the requirements or conditions set out in the fire certificate, then they shall be guilty of an offence.
If any premises are at any time put to a designated use where a fire certificate is required by law, and if no fire certificate covering that use is at that time in force in respect of the premises, then the Responsible Person shall be guilty of an offence.
A person guilty of an offence shall be liable to a fine and/or imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years.
The Law requires that the Responsible Person must keep a record of the testing and maintenance of the fire protection equipment, staff training and fire drills in a log book which must be readily available for inspection.
Renewal of a fire certificate
All fire certificates must be renewed every 36 months from the date of issue. This allows the SJFRS to stay informed about any significant changes that have been made to the premises, for example, a change of ownership, use, Responsible Person or any material/structural changes.
The renewal cost is £400, although, if you've made any significant material or structural alterations, you may have to pay further charges.
If your application form is not received by the necessary date before expiry, your fire certificate will be considered cancelled. This means that you have to reduce the number of people within your premises until you apply for a new fire certificate.
If you fail to return your completed application of renewal by the expiry date, you will incur a 100% submission penalty which will be added to the standard renewal fee.
Making changes or material alterations to premises
You must inform the Chief Fire Officer in advance if you plan to:
- Make a material extension of, or material structural alteration to, the premises; or
- Make a material alteration in the internal arrangements of the premises or in the furniture or equipment with which the premises are provided.
A material alteration is any alteration which would make escape routes and related fire precautions inadequate in relation to the normal conditions of use of the premises as explained to, and seen by, the inspecting officer at the time the fire certificate was issued.
You must also notify the Chief Fire Officer in advance if you plan to begin to keep explosives or highly flammable materials in your premises.
The SJFRS can inspect premises to check if the premises have changed so much that the means of escape and related fire precautions are no longer adequate.
Change of owner or occupier of premises
If you become the new owner, occupier or Responsible Person of premises with a fire certificate, you must notify the Chief Fire Officer.