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Fire Authorities remind businesses that fire safety is their responsibility

Cambridge and Peterborough is one of a number of fire authorities urging businesses to carry out regular checks – or face the consequences.

Fire authorities across the UK are reminding businesses of their responsibilities under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 to ensure that their properties meet essential safety guidelines in the event of a fire.

This means businesses should perform regular documented audits to ensure the adequacy of fire safety signs, fire detection and suppression equipment, emergency exits and basic emergency procedures.

County and Regional Fire Authorities have a statutory duty to enforce the provisions of the Order, to reduce the risk of fire causing death or serious injury to individuals and to protect property. They conduct fire safety audits of their own, which examine premises and relevant documents to ascertain compliance with the Order.

Businesses need to be prepared for such audits, primarily to minimise the risk to staff, visitors or customers at their premises, but also to avoid possible prosecution for a breach.

As part of the audit process, Fire Officers perform a thorough review of relevant documents and will expect them to be present and up-to-date. These documents might include the fire risk assessment, fire safety policy, evacuation plan, records of fire drills, safety training records, most recent test data for fire extinguishers, alarms, etc and electrical test certificates and PAT records.

The Officers will also perform an inspection to ensure that everything is correct, whatever the records might say. Make sure fire exits are clear and all signage is as it should be, as these are the most common breaches identified during such inspections.

While Fire Safety Audits are carried out routinely everywhere, there are certain factors that might cause the Authorities to focus on particular locations or types of premises. This is a purely risk-based approach and is likely to stem from such factors as public complaints, history of past incidents, change of use or specific requests from interested parties.

Providing practical help and advice is a core part of the Fire Service’s role. By taking full advantage of their services, businesses can mitigate risk to the public and ensure they are operating within the law.