Comment by: Ashley Baker
Focus area: Fire safety regulation
Regulator concerned: Fire safety (Fire Authority)
We have been running a guest house for nine years and every three years we get a visit from the local fire safety office. The first visit helped to get us upto the required standard and we implement the suggestions made by the fire officer and felt his suggestions made sense and that our fire procedures and protection of guests were now more than adequate. The upgrades etc cost us over £6000, but the peace of mind was worth it.
3 years later the next officer visits and tells us he does not think our fire alarm system is adequate and suggested we install more detectors, emergency lighting and change some fire doors. It would have been cheaper to do this 3 years earlier when we had to install the new fire alarm system. New cabling etc was not so bad in cost terms but the redecoration required was expensive. Hopefully now were were up to standard!
But no! 3 years later another fire officer visits and insists we are not compliant with the legislation and requests another 3 detectors, a new illuminated sign and a more detailed fire risk assessment.
It seems each new fire officer has to make his mark by finding new deficiencies at each new visit. One can always get better and better protection in any building but there come a point were the risk / cost ratio becomes over bearing on small businesses. We all want a high level of protection for us and our guests but fire officers do not have to bear the costs of their recommendations. They need to give some thought to this risk /cost ratio. If Fire safety officer applied their same risk reduction goals to road users, we would all be driving at 15MPH max, all roads would have central reservations and pedestrians would have to wear 12 inch padding!
Fire officer need to put themselves in our shoes rather than get heavy handed.