Comment by: Jack Kernohan
Focus area: Fire safety regulation
Regulator concerned: Fire safety (Fire Authority)
as a Fire risk assessor and highly qualified ex Fire Authority Fire Safety officer I have become aware that more and more Officers who visit premises do not know what the guidance documents are or how to apply the Regulations.
1 example of a premises visited by a fire officer. The owner contacted me in a panic as the fire officer threatened to close her guest house down if she didnt do the work he wanted then issued an enforcement notice that gave her 18 months to do the work.
2 example a fire officer issued an enforcement notice to provide fire resisting glazing under and external staircase. it was not required as the premises had a protected internal staircase and the external was only there for easier access into the gardens by occupants. The inside of the premises was not inspected
3 example a hotel I am acquainted with, asked the local fire officer if they could remove an external fire escape on the outside of their 3 storey hotel. the fire officer said it was ok without visiting just said include it in your risk assessment, which they did. they now have more bedrooms but no protected staircase from the upper floors.
the standards of enforcement is getting poorer which I presume is due to the current economic climate and cut back in training, coupled with no national training, I am finding that each Fire Authority is applying different standards and guidance in relation to fire safety and enfocrment.
I am aware that the regulations where supposed/designed to be enforced but with cutbacks this is no longer possible and the enforcing authorites I come in to contact with, no longer offer advice or guidance they actually direct premises to get in an outside consultant to undertake their fire risk assessment.
Apparently [deleted text] when they send a letter out to premises, to inform them they are going to inspect, include a letter telling them to use [deleted text] fire risk assessors before the enforcing officer arrives
So I believe that the standards of enforcement vary drastically from area to area and will not change until there is standardised national training for enforcing officers from each authority as they now appear to be very poorly trained, and I am making a lot of money out of fire risk assessments that are not needed and consultations.