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Extended: There’s no smoke without fire

Changes in building fire regulations which come into effect this summer will make the most senior executive in a company liable for all compensation costs.

Under the Fire Safety Regulatory Reform Order, fire services will no longer provide fire safety advice and issue fire certificates. From October, companies employing five or more people must complete a documented fire risk assessment, carried out by a competent person with suitable knowledge.

Ceri Williams, of motor retail safety training specialist HS Systems in Pontypridd, advises that the risk assessment must include a description of the premises’ size, design, construction materials and its usage. In addition, the provision of fire fighting equipment, alarms and detection systems, emergency lighting and testing or maintenance schedules must be stated, and all storage, use and disposal of flammable materials must be documented.

Businesses must also include a copy of their fire safety management policy, records of fire drills and staff training, and clearly identify the ‘responsible person’.

“If a fire risk assessment is not conducted to the prescribed measures and any losses, damage or injuries are sustained, the responsible person becomes personally liable for all compensation costs as a breach of law is uninsurable,” warns Williams, who has 25 years’ experience in the motor trade.

His partner in the business is Phil Shenk, a former fire safety officer with Monmouthshire and Gwent Fire Service.

Shenk says premises which have not done an acceptable risk assessment will receive a 30-day enforcement notice from their fire authority. If this is not complied with, the authority may close the premises and bring a prosecution.

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