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| 2 minutes read

Riding to compliance: learning lessons on fire safety

The owner of an equestrian yard has been fined £5,000 by Oxfordshire County Council’s Fire and Rescue Service for being in breach of a fire safety prohibition notice.  

In October 2020, inspectors from the council visited the yard and found that the premises failed to meet the requirements under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (FSO). Following a fire at the site, the council’s fire safety audit found that the owner failed to ensure that an adequate fire risk assessment was in place, failed to protect escape routes in case of fire and failed to provide a working fire alarm and detection system.  

The yard operated on the ground floor of the premises and there were two flats provided for staff accommodation on the first floor. Following the audit, the inspectors deemed the accommodation so unsafe that the use of the building for sleeping was prohibited, through the issuing of a prohibition notice, until the required fire safety measures were implemented.  

A further inspection in December 2022 found that the owner was in breach of the prohibition notice and employees were still being allowed to sleep in the building. The owner appeared in court last month and was found guilty of four charges under fire safety legislation. She received a conditional discharge for three of the charges and a fine of £5,000 was imposed for the remaining charge, alongside £4,969.50 in costs. 

Learning lessons  

Fire safety is a crucial consideration for all organisations, and smaller entities such as charities and social businesses should consider how fire safety legislation applies to their operations and premises. 

The FSO applies to all workplaces and the common parts of residential buildings containing two or more domestic premises (e.g., blocks of flats). Its scope includes areas in workplaces where staff ‘sleeping-in’ is a condition of employment or a business requirement. Organisations must take time to understand what legislation applies to their different premises/operations and what requirements this legislation imposes. The case above shows that size is no excuse for not complying with the law.  

Even for larger organisations such as social housing providers that may be well versed in fire safety, this case is an important reminder of being fully prepared for and cooperative with local authority fire inspections, which can happen at any time. Prohibition and enforcement powers available to fire services should be taken seriously and failure to comply can have very severe consequences. While it was an individual that was fined in this instance, for larger organisations, the fines are linked to annual turnover and can be unlimited.  

By understanding and adhering to the fire safety legislation and the guidelines set forth by the government, all organisations can effectively prioritise the safety and well-being of their employees, residents, customers and visitors. It is crucial for these entities to proactively assess and address potential fire risks in their premises to create a secure and safe environment for all. 

If you would like advice on your organisation’s fire safety responsibilities, please get in touch with the regulatory team at


firesafety, fso, building safety, regulation, housing, charities, health and social care, social business