Comment by: Martin Timmis
Focus area: Fire safety regulation
Regulator concerned: Fire safety (Fire Authority)
The RR(FS)O has provided a number of challenges for business and for the enforcing authorities, not least that a responsible person with limited fire safety knowledge may be responsible for managing complex solutions and often, producing fire risk assessments. There has also been the cultural change within fire authorities whereby their officers are now auditing risk assessments, rather than inspecting premises. The general quality of risk assessments varies widely, some have clearly been prepared by experts whilst others have not. The volume of enforcemnet is therefore greatest in smaller enterprises where, perhaps, fire safety is less of a priority than other business issues, not least generating profit.
In Shropshire the FRA has tried to help SME by offering free workshops at which we outline the legal requirements on business and provide guidance on negotiating the risk assessment and audit process. Each business within a geographical area recieves an invitation and a range of dates to attend the 2 hour session, normally outside normal business hours. Businesses are also advised of the likely audit dates for their area. These are seen positively by business and are considered to be “best practice”. Shropshire FRS would be happy to share the detail of this initiative with relevant parties.