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Fire safety

Fire safety is a critical element of sports grounds safety planning.

The primary objective of fire safety is to prevent the outbreak of fire, by taking steps to reduce the risk of fire and by providing and maintaining the appropriate means of both active and passive fire protection.

The other objectives of fire safety are, in the event of a fire:

  • to mitigate its direct and consequential damage by detecting it at an early stage, and
  • to reduce its spread by means of structural containment and by firefighting, and
  • to alert the sports ground’s safety management team and event officials so that investigation procedures and potential evacuation can be implemented immediately, and
  • to provide escape routes for all people present at the ground to a place of reasonable safety, or a place of safety, as part of a planned evacuation procedure that does not require the assistance of the fire and rescue service.

In all matters relating to fire safety, it is stressed that management should seek the advice of competent persons.

Some sports grounds include complex, multi-storey buildings with underground service areas (such as car parks), servicing the needs of large numbers of people and a wide range of uses. In such instances specialist input from a fire engineer is recommended.

Fire engineering solutions can also add value where changes or alterations are planned in existing sports grounds.

Chapter 15 of the Green Guide provides comprehensive details of actions and requirements of grounds in relation to fire safety.

Fire safety legislation

Fire safety at sports grounds is subject to a range of statutory controls.

At grounds certified under the Safety of Sports Grounds Act 1975, terms and conditions relating to fire safety form an integral part of the safety certification process.

At non-certified grounds, regulated stands (which are covered stands with a capacity of 500 or more) are subject to the Fire Safety and Safety of Places of Sport Act 1987.

Sports grounds in England and Wales also come under the jurisdiction of The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. According to the terms of this Order the ‘enforcing authority’ is the local authority responsible for issuing the safety certificate under Section 1 of the 1975 Act , or under the 1987 Act.

At all other sports grounds the enforcing authority will be the fire authority.

In all matters relating to fire safety, ground management should seek the advice of competent persons, such as the local fire service.

Fire safety plan

The aim of a Fire Safety Plan is to ensure that an appropriate level of fire safety is in place for all people present at the ground on both event days and non-event days.

It is an important part of the Operations Manual.

The Fire Safety Plan should include:

  • Procedures for the evacuation of all people present at the ground, without the assistance of the fire and rescue service.
  • Details of the means and resources by which the management will provide both active and passive fire protection measures appropriate to the layout of the sports ground, the capacity of the ground, and the sports and other activities that take place there.
  • The identity of the person whose responsibility it is to oversee fire safety management as well as the identity of competent persons to be present when the ground is occupied responsible for fire safety and management procedures.
  • Details of the lines of responsibility for fire safety management at the ground on both event days and non-event days, including the allocation of responsibilities for first aid firefighting.
  • Details of the procedures and schedules for carrying out fire risk assessments.
  • Details of emergency exit routes for all occupied areas of the sports ground. These routes, together with any fire engineering solutions in place, should be set out in detailed drawings to be contained within the Fire Safety Plan.
  • Details of the location and availability of all places of reasonable safety, and places of safety, including refuges.
  • Details of the location of, and maintenance and testing of fire detection and alarm systems.
  • Details of the location of, and maintenance and testing of fire fighting measures, such as extinguishers and hydrants.
  • Details of staff training in fire safety and the use of firefighting equipment.
  • Identification of those people most likely to be at risk in the event of an evacuation and staff or stewards who may have to assist others.
  • Details of schedule of works to maintain, test and improve the fire safety measures.
  • Details of relevant contingency plan, communications plans, and any other relevant materials.

In presenting and laying out the Fire Safety Plan management should consider avoiding the use of colour combinations or backgrounds that may lead to any of its contents being misunderstood by people who are colour blind. The Guidance on Colour Vision Deficiency provides further details of this.