Primary Authority Scheme

business fire safety, business owner

Do you run a business?

Do you need help with your fire safety?

What is a Primary Authority Scheme? (PAS)

Primary Authority is a means for businesses to receive assured and tailored advice on meeting fire safety regulations through a single point of contact. The Primary Authority Scheme is open to all businesses and means that your business can form a partnership with County Durham & Darlington Fire and Rescue Service to get expert advice on fire safety matters.

Who can enter a partnership?

Partnerships are available to any type of business, larger or small whether starting out or established with multiple sites. You may also have business premises outside of County Durham & Darlington area.

The two types of Primary Authority partnership

Direct partnerships

Where a business will form its own direct partnership. It then receives Primary Authority Advice tailored to its specific needs from its primary authority – County Durham & Darlington Fire & Rescue Service.

Co-ordinated partnerships 

Alternatively, a business might belong to a trade association (or other type of ‘regulated group’) to benefit from a co-ordinated primary authority partnership. Here, the Primary Authority Advice is still provided by the primary authority, however is shared via the trade association, and tailored to the general needs of its members. 

What are the benefits of a Primary Authority?

Your Business:

  • Has access to the latest relevant, legislative guidance and advice.
  • Gains recognition of robust compliance arrangements.
  • Can draw on effective means of meeting business regulations and on suitability of business control systems; and
  • As the responsible person, you can be more confident in protecting your business, staff and customers.
  • Reducing the costs of compliance
  • Together; creating an open and honest relationship with you and your business, where we discuss information about your compliance with legal requirements and work together to resolve issues to ensure compliance.
  • We provide you with tailored ‘Primary Authority Advice’ which your business can rely on with confidence to meet current Fire Safety legislation.
  • We act as your single point of contact with other fire authorities, reducing the inconvenience of multiple inspections of your business premises.

Improving confidence

We work with your business to understand your Fire risks and provide documentation and practical applications on the management of these risks, to improve your businesses compliance.

  • Reducing financial risks associated with a compliance failure, including the cost of legal fees and court fines.
  • Supporting your Business continuity arrangements – any interruption to normal business activity, whether this is related to an investigation by a regulator, or to the need to withdraw or suspend a product or service.
  • Reputational risk – any damage to your brand and reputation as a result of significant failure to meet legal requirements

Reducing the costs of getting it wrong

Where we receive feedback from other fire authorities about a business in relation to inspections or complaints we will build a picture of how the business’ procedures are working in practice and set out to amend these to bring a business back into compliance.

This detailed understanding of your business means that, should an issue arise, which may indicate a failure to meet legal requirements, the primary authority will:

  • Work with your business to quickly assess the issue and agree whether remedial action is needed.
  • Make recommendations to other fire authorities on how to respond proportionately to any compliance failure.

The primary authority is also able to direct against enforcement action by another local authority, where your business has acted on Primary Authority Advice, and the proposed action is inconsistent with their advice.

What is Primary Authority Advice?

Often referred to as ‘assured advice’ it can provide protection for a business and reduce a business’s exposure to the costs of unfair or inconsistent regulatory action. The benefit being the business follows the advice from County Durham & Darlington Fire & Rescue Service and doesn’t need to worry about responding to conflicting advice or even facing enforcement action from another local fire authority, that has a different interpretation of the legal requirements.

What can Primary Authority advice cover?

Businesses have different needs so it’s important that your business works with its primary authority, to determine, understand and prioritise the regulatory risks faced by the business.

At its simplest we can think of primary authority advice as falling into two headings:

  • Advice on interpretation and applicability of Fire Safety legislation.
  • Advice on compliance Fire related systems.

Do you want to join a primary authority scheme?

If you’d like more information or to discuss further how we can help your business

Further information & Guidance

NFCC: Primary Authority

Primary Authority: a guide for businesses

Primary Authority Overview

Office for Product Safety & Standards