1st Fire Safety Ltd

Helping businesses on a local and national basis call: 0121 6616464

1st Fire Safety Ltd  - Helping businesses on a local and national basis call: 0121 6616464

Fire? It will never happen to me!

Fire? It will never happen to me!

This is what is often said when it comes to fire. Yet those businesses who are unfortunate to have a fire, 95% of them fail to recover from such a tragedy.

building on fire

So what can we do to safeguard this from happening to us then?

Firstly a bit of history, In October 2005 the UK fire safety legislation was changed. The many different parts of fire law was either replaced, amended or simplified to form the Regulatory Reform Fire Safety Order 2005.  Prior to this, it was the responsibility of the fire authority to visit premises, carry out fire risk assessments and issue fire certificates. The onus is now placed fully on the ‘responsible person’ to carry out their own fire risk assessments.

The fire service has the responsibility to police the RRO and have more power than the police to enter buildings as they do not require warrants to do this. Fire officers generally look for and ask for your fire risk assessment, emergency plan and fire records. They will also do an inspection of the building and if they feel there are insufficient fire safety measures in place they have the power to close it down.

The first thing we need is a fire risk assessment

So the first thing we must have in place then is a fire risk assessment. This is a legal requirement and should be documented should you employ five or more people however the fire law doesn’t stop there. You also require a documented fire risk assessment should you manage/own or are deemed the ‘responsible person’ on the following: shared houses, houses of multiple occupancy whether licensed or not, blocks of flats, hostels, small care homes, B&B’s, guest houses, holiday lets and hotels.

Are you competent enough?

The Regulatory Reform Fire Safety Order 2005 (RRO) states that if you feel you are competent enough to carry out a fire risk assessment then you can do one yourself however there have been many cases of fines and prosecutions from the fire authorities for insufficient and poor fire risk assessments click here for an e.g. A lot of companies are getting theirs done by professionally qualified fire risk assessors not only is it saving them time and therefore money it could also save lives too.

What next?

Okay, so once you have had your fire risk assessment done. What next? You should then start to complete the action plan.  This part of the fire risk assessment has a list of prioritised jobs with a timeframe of when each task must be completed by. It is crucial getting this done as soon as possible and definitely before the suggested completion date as any kind of delay could jeopardise your fire safety and therefore your business.

Your fire risk assessment is a live document and should be reviewed regularly; there is no set time on how often you should get this done. Good practise is getting it reviewed on a yearly basis however should you have any changes in your workforce, work practices, have any internal/external work done to your workplace or have had a fire then this is also a time to re-examine it.

What else should I know and do?

Should you have fire extinguishers in your premises then by law they must be serviced annually by a ‘competent’ engineer. Fire alarms must be serviced every six months and emergency lighting every twelve. All details of servicing must be recorded in a fire log book and must be made available at any time for the fire authorities.  If you have fire extinguishers on site then you must be suitably trained to use these and have had training on basic fire awareness too. For larger premises you must have fire wardens and of course these must be trained too.

How can I get help?

If you need help with any of the above we can assist you in this as we offer a complete fire safety solution and are not only competitive but also offer excellent customer service just take a look at out testimonials.

 

 

7 Things You Need To Know About Fire Risk Assessments

7 things you need to know about fire risk assessments

A burnt out hmo

 

[Tweet “If you’re either a landlord or a letting agent you should read this, it could save you money”].

There seems to be some confusion or misleading information out there regarding fire risk assessments. Some landlords think that if the property is licensed then they require a fire risk assessment however this is not the case at all. Every property that has a “shared staircase” (common areas) requires a fire risk assessment this also includes holiday lets, B&Bs and guest houses too.

 

1, A chance visit by a friendly fire officer

fire officer

The fire service are visiting domestic homes and doing free fire safety checks at the moment and obviously they will call on a property by chance which could be a HMO. Once there they can then do an inspection of the property, they do not need a warrant of any sort – the fire service have more power than the police to enter buildings.

 

An example could be that one of your tenants is busy making dinner. When they hear the doorbell. They go to the door and find a fire officer standing there. They will introduce themselves show their ID and then explain they are in the area doing fire safety checks and educating people on fire and what to do in the event of fire. They then may ask who lives there etc. The tenant will most probably let the fire officer in as no one sees them as threats or nuances, after all they are good upstanding members of the community and generally people see them as heroes.

Once inside they will do a quick inspection and should it be a HMO or any other property with a shared staircase they will ask who the landlord is and whether they can see their fire risk assessment and fire log book. They will also ask the tenants what information they have been provided with from the landlord a fire should break out.

Example happened on a group I was posting too when the above situation happened to a landlord. A fire officer did a chance visit noticed deficiencies in fire safety found out who the landlord was and consequently checked the rest of their properties. Which cost the landlord money as the fire officer wanted the deficiencies rectified straight away or he would get the tenants removed.

2, You could lose money

Burniing money

Should the inspecting fire officer find insufficient fire safety measures in place he/she could get the tenants removed out of the HMO thus you the landlord losing money.

Or it could be you have had a small fire and your insurance company loss adjuster visits your premises. Should he or she see that your fire risk assessment is insufficient then they could remove the claim which means your insurance is null and void should you have no fire risk assessment in place?

3, You could get a large fine.

There will then be a further investigation and the landlord will be issued with an enforcement notice to get things rectified. Some give 3 months others are more stringent. They could even prosecute the landlords for breaches in the fire safety order and issue fines or worse – prison.

Here is an example of a large £80,000 fine being issued here

4, You feel you can do it yourself and save money

In the Regulatory Reform Fire Safety Order 2005 it states that should you feel that you are competent enough you can do your own however there have been examples of landlords doing their own and consequently getting fines for insufficient fire risk assessments. Here is another example:

1st August 2013, Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service
Defendant – Gurpartap Singh Bhullar, Company Director of Bellforce Developments, owners of a Slough based House of Multiple Occupation
Charged with multiple fire safety failures, including failure to conduct a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment, failure to take general life precautions for persons sleeping on the premises, failure to provide adequate means of detection and giving warning in the event of a fire.
Bhullar received a fine of £6,750, and Bellforce Developments received a fine of £13,500.  Additionally, they were ordered to pay court costs of £21,732.62 to the fire authority.

In this I must be blunt: the average person is not competent enough in fire safety to undertake a fire risk assessment anywhere near adequate for what is required. Indeed I have seven years of fire safety experience and even so I felt that I should be credited under a recognised institute for carrying out fire risk assessments which is the Institute of Fire Safety Managers and Institute of Fire Engineering.

5, I will get my mate to do it he/she knows a bit about fire safety

Would you have an unqualified solicitor represent you in a court of law?

So why “risk” your life or freedom by getting a fire risk assessment done by an unqualified fire risk assessor.A fire risk assessment is a legal requirement under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

Can you be sure it was done by a competent person with appropriate qualifications and accreditation?

After all you are putting your lives and freedom in their hands, there are many cowboy companies out there who say they can do fire risk assessments and unfortunately these unscrupulous companies are very busy as they are not doing it correctly,  therefore they can charge cheaper rates for their services.

These fire risk assessments are not worth the paper they are written on, there have been many examples of fire risk assessors and owners being prosecuted for incorrect fire measures.

Fire risk assessor prosecuted here

6,You could download a guide from the internet 

Again this is possible and many people do this however what if you got something wrong or missed something or disregarded something as you thought not being important – it could come back to haunt you. After all they are just guides. So many businesses try and save money by doing it themselves through downloading guides etc. However most fire service prosecutions always seem to have  ‘fire risk assessment not sufficient or correct’.

Fire Risk Assessment template

7, Okay, You now have a sufficient fire risk assessment done. What now?

Well done you have a fire risk assessment done by an accredited fire risk assessor and have been sent the document. What now?

There should be an action plan to follow which you must complete within the time frame using appropriate contractors who know what they are doing.

Most electricians don’t know how to put in fire systems with fire control panels,  call points and detectors. They think they do and some will do there best to try and fit them. Unless they have had appropriate fire alarm training with certificates showing this, if not then use a proper fire alarm install company.

Remember whoever you employ to carry out work from the fire risk assessment action plan and should something go wrong you as the ‘Responsible person‘ will be held liable. The same applies to fire doors etc. Make sure your contractors know what they are doing and they have suitable qualifications.

I recently did a fire risk assessment on a HMO and noticed that the newly installed fire doors only had two hinges which should have been three. Things like the above example are extremely important regarding fire doors as they will not hold back the fire or smoke for 30 mins to allow for safe evacuation.

7,Review and Update

The fire safety order states that you should review your fire risk assessment on a regular basis. However with many recent changes to legislation and best practise it is advisable to get this done every 12 months – This will ensure that your property is safe and therefore safeguard your future pension.

Northamptonshire Firefighters are to strike again

Northampton Firefighters are to strike over pension age.

Northamptonshire fire fighters are to take part in a five hour nationwide strike on October 19 from 6:30pm to 11:30pm amid a row over pensions.

The government is proposing that firefighters should continue working up to the age of 60. Click here for more on this story

Remember the fire safety order 2005 states that you must carry out a sufficient fire risk assessment of your premises should you be the “responsible person“.  This also applies to common areas of flats, HMO’s and buildings that have shared staircases.

For a special price we can carry out a fire risk assessment at your premises from only £197.

 

 

Do you really need an automatic fire alarm?

Have you been in a situation when a fire alarm company states that you need to have an automatic system with smoke detection or that you think you need one.

fire alarm 3d

Does this ring a bell? pardon the pun.
What the fire alarm installation companies do is that when a customer has a requirement for a fire alarm. They put in the highest level of cover they ‘think’ is appropriate e.g. L2, L3 or in some extreme cases L1.

*However in hotels, guest houses, b&bs and where there are sleeping occupants in the business premise then an L1 or L2 systems are needed as stated in BS5839 code of practise.

This is because they are making sure that they cover themselves first against any repercussions that could happen from the result of putting in a lower category system e.g.. M (manual system)  system or a L4 automatic system.

However if the company had a fire risk assessment done first correctly by a competent fire risk assessor who is qualified – sometimes a manual system is sufficient and only minor alterations (if required at all) to the the building are needed, like putting vision panels in rooms that are known as ‘inner rooms’.

e.g.
An automatic fire alarm system could costs 3-4k (being very modest here) against a fire risk assessment which costs £300 plus around £500- £1000 (depending on how many rooms) for the installation of vision panels.

I wasn’t the best at maths in school but I know which one is less expensive without doing any calculations and you are still abiding by the Regulatory Reform (fire safety) Order 2005 and making your building safe.

Of course you will also be cutting down on your servicing costs too!

I hope you have taken something from this and in turn has helped your business save money.

 

 

Is your fire risk asssessor competent?

Hi, this is my first blog. Exciting and scary at the same time. Thank you for reading it

I have just completed the IFSM (Institute of fire safety management) Fire Risk Assessor/ Fire Management Certificate Course. As part of this course we discussed the competency of fire risk assessors.

What came from this discussion was there are dodgy people who charge very little for a fire risk assessment and don’t have the knowledge to carry one out correctly which means they are putting themselves and others like you and me at risk.

As part of the changes in the fire legislation i.e. The R.R.O (regulatory reform fire safety order) it is a must that the ‘ responsible person’ must carry out or appoint a competent person to do their fire risk assessment for non-domestic businesses.

A lot more businesses are appointing fire risk assessors as they do not feel they are competent enough to do it themselves and don’t want to risk getting prosecuted from the local fire service should they get it wrong.

Makes sense!

However due to some fire risk assessors themselves not being competent/ qualified enough to carry out a thorough and correct fire risk assessment. Many businesses are falling foul to this and there have been occasions where the fire risk assessor and the business owner being prosecuted.

Please click here for recent convictions

 

Let me know what your thoughts are on this

Thanks

Nick

What is a responsible person?

If you are wondering what a ‘responsible person’ is in simple terms I have given it my best shot to keep it as simple as possible without removing what is important to know.

I hope the below information helps!

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 was introduced into England and Wales in October 2006. The Order replaces the previous fire safety legislation.

Any fire certificate issued under
the Fire Precautions Act 1971 will cease to have any effect.

fire_escape_sign

It is now up to the ‘responsible person’ to carry out a fire risk assessment of their business premises.

A ‘responsible person’ is as described below taken direct from the government website.

In England and Wales, if you’re an employer, owner, landlord or occupier of business or other non-domestic premises, you’re responsible for fire safety and are known as the ‘responsible person’.

As the responsible person there are certain things you must do by law under the Fire Safety Order, which is enforced by your local Fire and Rescue authority.

The Fire Safety Order also applies if you have paying guests – eg if you run a bed and breakfast, guest house or let self-catering property “

As a ‘responsible person’ you must carry out the following:

  • Do a fire risk assessment and review it regularly
  • Tell your staff about the risks you have found
  • Put in place and keep up to date any fire safety measures to help remove or reduce the risk to life
  • Do an emergency plan
  • Provide your staff with information on fire safety instruction and fire training

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