All the transition periods for operators and owners of buildings and facilities missing a fire security authorisation expired at the end of last year (2017), so that severe penalties are now applicable without exception.

However, there are still many buildings and facilities functioning without a fire security authorisation. Hence, since the end of January 2018, the law now extends the obligations of the owner/ operator of such constructions.

Context

After the fire catastrophe in the Bucharest club Colectiv which had no fire security authorisation the Romanian Government was keen to find ways to enforce stringent fire security regulations.

For the many buildings throughout the country that were functioning without fire security authorisation, there were several transition periods provided, in which owners/ operators were not punished. Exceptions to this rule were cases in which the infringement of fire security regulations were so serious that the buildings could no longer be operated or used. The buildings' owners and operators had to fulfill the legal obligation of requesting and obtaining the necessary fire security authorisations during said transition periods. After many extensions, these transition periods expired at the end of 2017 even for special cases and special projects. As a result, the penalties for operating constructions missing a fire security authorisation are now fully in force.

The Romanian General Inspectorate for Emergency Situations (ISU) is proving to be very active, and has already carried out many inspections that have led to the imposition of fines.

New obligations related to fire security

Until the fire security authorisation is obtained, the beneficiaries of investments in public-use buildings must place a warning sign at the entrance of the premises, with the following text:

"These premises are running with no fire security authorisation."

The text must be in red capital letters, at least 2,5 cm high, on a white background.

This obligation is applied to all buildings requiring an authorisation according to Government Decision no. 571/2016, with the following uses, purposes and functions:

a) buildings or premises used for commercial purposes: bars, clubs, discos, restaurants, shopping centres, shops, super/ hypermarkets;

b) buildings or premises used for cultural purposes: theatres, cinemas, multifunction spaces, event venues or similar spaces, which are dedicated to the public or open for use by the public;

c) buildings or premises whose use is within the tourism sector: hotels, motels, hostels, villas, chalets, guesthouses, guest rooms and apartments.

It must be highlighted that, according to the wording of the law, it is unclear whether these obligations apply to the owner or to the operator (eg tenant) of the building. It is equally unclear who is liable for obtaining the fire security authorisation.

Penalties for not putting up the warning sign

Failure to put up this warning panel will be punished with a fine between 2,501 and 5,000 RON (approx. 550 1,100).

This penalty is on top of fines of 20,000 - 50,000 RON (approx. 4,500-11,000) for running buildings without a fire security authorisation.

All these penalties are imposed by the ISU. If it finds serious infringements of the fire security regulations, the ISU is further entitled to restrict the use/ operation of the building. However, this sanction does not depend on the existence of a fire security authorisation.

Conclusion

Intensified ISU inspections are expected in the near future. Investors that have failed to obtain a fire security authorisation must be prepared for fines for breach of the fire security regulations. They must also now declare the security status by mounting a warning sign at the entrance of public-use buildings. Otherwise, additional fines will be imposed.