RS In our opinion What documents will keep the fireman away

What documents will keep the fireman away

© RIA Novosti, Andrey Stenin

After a series of fires that occurred and led to significant losses in the last few years in Russia the government started thinking about tightening and changing fire safety regulations. A lot of ideas were offered including: making fire insurance for all sites mandatory, transferring the authority for assessing fire risk to insurance companies, etc. However, drastic changes are yet to take place, but fire-safety audits are intensifying. Which documents are necessary for organisations looking to pass these audits?

Like with the situation regarding protecting personal information (see RS March 2012), many fire safety issues are resolving by the organization's internal documents. Fire inspection bodies ensure organisations keep these documents just as much as they possess fire-extinguishing equipment and different alarm systems. Therefore, currently many are more focused on upholding these fire-safety requirements 'on paper'.

But, let's first take a look at the duties and liabilities of the auditors.

Fire fines

Obviously, it is understandable that liability in terms of fire-safety strongly depends on the consequences ensuing are these rules have been broken. If there are material and/or human losses, then this matter may even be taken to criminal court and the perpetrator may face a long prison sentence. In particular, under the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation one may be imprisoned for up to seven years as punishment for the death of two or more people due to one's negligence. These cases are exceptions to the rule and one becomes liable not because he/she lacks necessary documentation, but for real actions—blocking evacuation points, getting rid of chimneys, etc.

Fire safety audits are intended for preventive purposes (when there are no losses yet) and they may result in administrative liability, not criminal. To be more precise these offences fall under article 20.4 in the Administrative Offences Code of the Russian Federation entitled “Failure to uphold fire-safety requirements”. This article covers assuming liability for a few different types of offences and the fine amounts are rather imposing. The minimal fine is equal to 90,000 rubles, while the maximum amounts to a half million rubles! Besides that, upon the auditors' motion, the court can suspense the organisation's activities for up to three months.

The minimal fine is equal to 90,000 rubles, while the maximum amounts to a half million rubles!

Concluding the overview of liability statutes, it is worth pointing out that cases dealing with fire safety administrative offences are evaluated by governmental bodies overseeing fire inspection, namely a special sub-unit within the Ministry of Emergency Situations (MES of Russia)* and its local sub-units.

Who can be fined

It is necessary to mention one significant point regarding the liability party in fire safety regulations. Since most business premises are not owned by the organisations located there, but rather are rented out, a logical question arises about who should be held responsible for fulfilling fire safety requirements in such buildings.

The answer to this question is specified in the Russian law: property owners shall assume liability for any offence regarding fire safety requirements, unless otherwise noted in the lease agreement. Generally it is stated in lease agreements that the tenants bear responsibility for following fire safety procedures in the rented premises, as the owner is liable for ensuring fire safety in the building as a whole. Therefore, even if an organisation is renting a premise, it most likely will have to fulfil all requirements regarding filling out all fire safety documents.

Which documents are necessary for all

Every firm must have an order from the director in which the fire safety regime is outlined. In particular, the order should establish the procedure for shutting down the electric supply at the end of the work day and if a fire does occur the permissible smoking areas are to be documented. Also, the storage places and allowable quantity of raw materials, semi-finished and finished goods are to be regulated. This is the first mandatory document.

The second fire safety document is also an order from the director. It should spell out the procedure and timeline for conducting a fire safety instruction course, classes on the basics of fire safety and also nominate parties responsible for upholding these regulations.

Further, it is necessary to outline how employees should act when discovering a fire, procedure for examining and closing a premise after work and also the procedure for performing temporary flame and other fire hazard works.

Finally, a separate order should determine who will be responsible for acquiring, maintaining, preserving and preparing all emergency fire-fighting equipment (fire extinguishers, fire hydrants fire shields, etc.). At the same time it is recommended that an organization keep a journal that monitors the presence and state of emergency fire-fighting equipment.

Documents for special cases

So, now we are clear about the documents required for every organization. Regulations vary depending on the organization type and the number of workers. So, if more than 10 people are on a floor in a premise simultaneously, then evacuation plans in case of a fire should be developed, adopted and displayed conspicuously. If the amount of people in a premise exceeds 50, then it is necessary to develop and adopt instructions (in addition to the systematic evacuation plan during a fire) for ensuring the safe and quick evacuation of all personnel. Also, fire drills practicing proper evacuation should be performed at least once every six months by all employees and this is to be documented in a special journal.

There is one other point to be considered if the premises are not equipped with technical means for informing workers about a fire, then it necessary to make an order regarding the procedure for information people about fire outbreak and assign responsibility for this.


Continuing on … firms with fire hazardous equipment (air compressors at air repair shops, heating equipment, etc.) should display or hang up safety signs around every one of these objects/sites. If there are production and storage premises, information about the category of fire and explosive danger is to be exhibited on the doors and also about the rules for setting up electric installation.

Finally, if the organization has sub-units (workshops, shop floors) specified as flammable and explosive and subject to fire risk, then the direct should issue an order about developing and adopting fire safety instructions for every one of these sites.

In short, those are the main document requirements for fire safety

Having all necessary documents will significantly simplify relations with fire inspectors and decrease the risk of being heavily fined.

Aleksei Krainev,
Exclusively for Russian Survey RS

Audit types

An audit for monitoring adherence to fire safety regulations may be planned or unplanned. Planned audits can be conducted (in the majority of cases) once every three years. With that being said, the organizations to be audited this year are set in advance, an audit plan is composed that is passed by fire inspection authorities (sub-unit of MES of Russia). One can take a look at this plan on the MES site at

That is to say that one can easily prepare in advance to a planned audit by bringing all documentation up-to-date.

But unplanned audits are conducted without warning and any information that makes its way into the fire inspection authorities' hands (MES) and containing information about possible fire safety regulation offences or possible damage to the life, health or property of citizens, the government or legal entities may serve as an adequate cause for such an audit. It should be noted that an unplanned audit is only possible with the prosecutor office's approval. This acts as a buffer of sorts for frequent and fabricated audit claims.

* Officially, the ministry is called the Ministry of Russian Federation for Civil Defence, Emergency Situation and Mitigation of Natural Disaster Consequences (MES of Russia).