What detailed steps should a UK-based interior design firm take to comply with fire safety standards in public spaces?

As an interior design firm, ensuring that the spaces you create not only look beautiful but are also safe and compliant with all necessary regulations is crucial. Fire safety is one of these essential considerations, especially in public spaces where the risk is not only to assets but, most importantly, human lives. In the UK, these standards are governed by strict regulations laid out in a document known as a fire safety order. It covers everything from building materials to escape routes. By following these guidelines, your firm will guarantee that your designs are not just aesthetically pleasing, but also meet the necessary safety standards.

Fire Safety in Building Design

The design phase is the initial step in ensuring that your building project is compliant with fire safety regulations. Here, we will discuss how the fire safety order affects the process of designing a building.

In the UK, the government has set out comprehensive fire safety standards to ensure buildings are designed with safety in mind. These standards encompass the type of materials that should be used, the layout of rooms and buildings, and the installation of fire safety systems.

It is crucial to select building materials that are fire-resistant. This includes walls, ceilings, and floors. Fire-resistant materials limit the spread of fire and provide additional time for occupants to evacuate the building.

Fire safety design also involves the layout of rooms and buildings. The design should consider fire compartments that can contain a fire within a particular area, limiting its spread and reducing the overall risk.

Lastly, the installation of fire safety systems, such as fire alarms and sprinklers, is essential. These systems detect and control a fire, providing an early warning to occupants and potentially suppressing the fire before it spreads.

Fire Escape Routes and Doors

Escape routes and doors are critical aspects of fire safety in public spaces. These elements of design can make the difference between life and death in a fire situation.

A well-designed escape route will provide a clear and unobstructed path from any point in the building to a place of safety. These routes should be clearly marked and easily accessible.

When it comes to doors, fire doors play a crucial role in fire safety. These doors are designed to withstand fire for a certain period, allowing occupants to escape and preventing the spread of fire and smoke. All fire doors should comply with the required performance criteria as laid out in the fire safety order.

Fire Safety Regulations in Public Spaces

In the UK, the fire safety order requires all public spaces to adhere to certain fire safety regulations. Understanding these regulations is key to ensuring your building design is compliant.

Public spaces require a risk assessment to identify potential fire hazards and the people at risk. This assessment should then inform the measures necessary to reduce or eliminate the risk.

Buildings should also be equipped with the necessary fire safety measures, such as fire alarms, sprinklers, and fire doors. These measures should be regularly tested and maintained to ensure they function correctly.

Regular fire drills should also be carried out to ensure that all occupants are familiar with the escape routes and know what to do in the event of a fire.

The Role of a Fire Safety Document

A fire safety document is a crucial tool in ensuring that your designs comply with the necessary fire safety standards. This document outlines all the measures taken to comply with the fire safety order and provides evidence of compliance.

This document should detail the fire safety measures in place, including the materials used, the design of the rooms and buildings, the fire safety systems installed, and the escape routes and doors.

It should also include details of the fire risk assessment and the steps taken to reduce or eliminate the risks identified. The document will serve as a reference for any future updates or renovations, ensuring that fire safety remains a priority throughout the life of the building.

Remember, fire safety is not a one-off task but a continuous process that requires regular reviews, updates, and maintenance. By taking the time to understand and comply with the fire safety order, your firm can ensure that your designs are not just beautiful but also safe and compliant.

Fire Protection Systems and Maintenance

Fire protection systems are key elements in ensuring fire safety. This includes the installation of fire alarms, sprinklers, fire extinguishers, and other necessary fire protection equipment.

The use of a fire alarm system is crucial in the early detection of a fire. To comply with fire regulations in the UK, the alarm system should cover the entire building, ensuring that all occupants can hear the alarm and have sufficient time to evacuate in the event of a fire. The system should include manual call points, detectors, sounders, and control and indication equipment.

Fire extinguishers are also required in all public spaces. They should be easily accessible and suitable for the type of fire risk present in the building. There are various types of fire extinguishers, each designed to tackle a specific type of fire, so it's imperative to select the appropriate ones for your space.

Furthermore, a sprinkler system is an effective fire suppression method. When properly designed, installed and maintained, it can control and even extinguish a fire before the fire service arrives.

It's not enough to install these systems; their maintenance is equally important. Regular testing, servicing and maintenance should be carried out by competent persons to ensure that the systems remain effective and ready to perform their intended function at all times.

Compliance and Fire Safety Documentation

To prove compliance with fire safety standards, the UK law mandates a documented fire risk assessment. This document identifies potential fire hazards, people at risk, and measures to mitigate these risks.

Such a document must contain a clear record of significant findings related to fire risks and the actions taken to address them. This includes details about the fire alarm and detection system, escape route, emergency lighting, fire doors, fire extinguishers, and other relevant safety measures.

An important part of this process is the nomination of a 'responsible person' who will ensure that the assessment is carried out and that necessary actions are taken. This person is also responsible for maintaining the fire risk assessment document and making sure that it's reviewed regularly and kept up to date, especially if there are significant changes in the building, its use, or the number of occupants.


Ensuring that your designs not only meet aesthetic standards but also comply with fire safety regulations is a legal and moral obligation. The steps highlighted above, from the early stages of design to the installation of appropriate fire protection systems and regular maintenance, are all essential.

Though it might appear complex, adhering to the UK's fire safety order is straightforward if you understand the requirements and apply them diligently. Your adherence to these standards safeguards your public spaces against fire risk, ensuring that they are not just aesthetically pleasing but also safe for occupancy.

Remember, fire safety is a continuous process that should be regularly reviewed and updated. As an interior design firm, your role is to create safe, beautiful spaces, meeting both building regulations and the unique needs of your clients.