Keep your business safe

If you own, manage or operate a business, you will need to comply with fire safety legislation as well as taking the same precautions as you would at home.

Legislation and guidance

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 applies across England and Wales and came into force in October 2006. It’s an employer’s responsibility to make sure that a workplace reaches the required standard of fire safety to comply with the legislation.

The legislation applies to nearly every type of commercial building and structure, other than single private dwellings, such as individual flats and houses. For example, it applies to:

  • offices and shops
  • care providers (including care homes and hospitals)
  • community halls, places of worship and other community premises
  • pubs, clubs and restaurants
  • schools and sports centres
  • tents and marquees
  • hotels and hostels
  • factories and warehouses
  • common parts of houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) and common parts of blocks of flats and maisonettes

A short guide to making your premises safe from fire is available on

A business manager and TWFRS business safety team inspect a smoke alarm

Automatic Fire Alarms

Automatic fire alarms (AFAs) help to keep building occupants safe by providing early warning in the event of fire.

However, they can also be the cause of false alarms. This means that fire crews are not available to attend genuine emergencies where people’s lives may be at risk, or to carry out training or community safety work to help prevent fires from happening in the first place.

For this reason, we do not respond to investigate AFA calls from non-residential premises between 8am and 6pm (including bank holidays).

We will always respond to calls 24 hours a day if:

  • a back up call is received through 999 reporting a fire or signs of fire (such as a smell of burning)
  • you have been granted an exemption by Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service

We will always respond to:

  • single private domestic dwellings and sheltered accommodation schemes
  • other residential premises such as hostels, hotels and care homes
  • hospitals
  • education premises such as universities, colleges and schools including pre-schools and nurseries
  • registered Control of Major Accident Hazards (COMAH) sites
  • premises who have successfully applied to us for exemption (see ‘Exemption Criteria’ tab below for further information).

Our AFA response policy applies to calls received directly from premises and through alarm receiving centres.

Contact us for more information on our AFA response policy or applying for exemption.


We recommend that automatic sprinkler systems are fitted where appropriate.

Sprinklers are the most effective way to contain or even extinguish fires before the Fire Service arrives. According to the National Fire Chiefs Council, they reduce damage to non-residential properties by around 50%.

Find out more about the benefits of sprinkler systems.