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Fire certificates still required

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Last year marked the conclusion of a five year review of current Fire Safety Law, resulting in The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, which, when it comes into force, will replace over 100 statutes of Fire Safety at Work.

Until such time, most businesses and organisations in England and Wales should still apply to their local Fire Brigade for a Fire Certificate and take advice from Fire Safety Advisers or the Fire and Rescue Services. Mid January 2006 saw the announcement of the postponed April date for the coming into force of the new Fire Safety Order (FSO).

Many businesses are unaware of the requirements of fire safety legislation.

Currently the Fire Brigade will continue to carry out enforcement under the Fire Precautions Workplace Regulations 1997 (amended) and the Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations. Part of the requirement of these statutes is a mandatory requirement for organisations to carry out a Fire Risk Assessment of the workplace.

Until the new FSO comes into effect, the Fire Precautions Act 1971 still remains in force; meaning that organisations within the specified criteria, are still required to complete a FP1 form via the local Fire Brigade who will then guide the organisation through the process to obtain a Fire Certificate.

As a guide, Fire Certificates are mandatory where more than 20 people are employed or where there are more than 10 other than on the ground floor or where certain types and quantities of highly flammable materials are stored or used. In the case of hotels, this applies where sleeping accommodation is provided for more than six people or where overnight rooms are provide above or below the ground floor.

Until the new legislation comes into force, the Fire Authority can still enforce under these existing regulations and will carry out inspections accordingly. It is critical to note that having a Fire Certificate does not exempt businesses from undertaking a Fire Risk Assessment.

Commenting, Steve Best of Peterborough based Newflame Fire Equipment said, "According to Fire Protection Trade Association figures, over 60% of businesses do not have adequate fire protection. To put this in context, every year there are more than 40,000 workplace fires, unfortunately resulting in the loss of over 50 lives each year with an average cost of £58,000 per fire which, causes almost 2000 injuries and in 40% of cases businesses do not recover and fold as a consequence."

"Legislation is there to encourage businesses to protect their staff and livelihoods, premises and assets and failing to comply can be extremely costly, even without the outbreak of a fire. Enforcement has lead to penalties being imposed of between £4000 and £85.000 where organisations have failed to adequately protect from the risk of fire."

Currently and under the new legislation, the main emphasis is on ensuring that a Fire Risk Assessment has been implemented. This should be reviewed regularly and after any change that might affect fire safety in the workplace. When undertaken properly this can help to protect employees, visitors and business premises.

For initial free advice, businesses are invited to call Newflame on 0800 542 0149 or seek advice about the new legislation from the Government’s new fire safety advice web portal at: www.e-fire.gov.uk

January 2006




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