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New regulations: playing with fire

From October 1, dealers in England and Wales have been obliged to carry out their own fire safety risk assessments or face a £5,000 fine, or up to two years in prison.

However, many have either not heard of the changes or are unaware of what is involved.

One dealer told AM: “I’ve only owned my business for six months. Who is meant to let us know about changes to these regulations? I haven’t heard anything.”

The new legislation forms the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order, which states that Fire Certificates are no longer valid from October 1 and that all businesses are responsible for identifying the risks to people and property at its premises, regardless of multiple occupancy or ownership of the freehold.

The findings of the assessment must be recorded and reproduced when required by the authorities – most likely to be the local fire and rescue service.

With regular random audit inspections being carried out by the local fire and rescue service, it is important for businesses to be up-to-date with the paperwork.

Robert Porter, general aftersales manager at the Holden Group in Norwich, says: “We’ve always been quite good with our health and safety, so when we heard about the changes we employed Alfred McAlpine Ltd to do the fire risk assessment for our six sites.

“It was a relatively simple process. They gave us an action sheet, which we used to make our buildings comply to the regulations, and now we’ll just monitor them for the next year until the next check comes up.”

Where can I find out more?

Many local fire safety officers offer mini seminars on what to expect from an audit inspection – contact your local fire service details. The Fire Safety Agency offers an online assessment to help guide businesses through their own self-assessment on its website: www.firesafetyagency.co.uk

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