The HMICFRS (Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services) is currently carrying out an inspection of all 45 fire and rescue services in England. This is the first independent inspection in 12 years and is focussing on how effective and efficient the fire and rescue service at keeping people safe and secure from fire and other risks and how it looks after its people.
A summary of the findings of inspections of the first 14 services has now been published. This reveals some interesting results, overall most fire and rescue services were found to be effective at keeping people safe from fire and other emergencies, good at responding to the risk of fires and other emergencies and had a good understanding of local risk, however there were concerns over protection work.
The report finds that in the 12 months to 31st March 2018, services across England conducted 49,423 fire safety audits a fall of 42% compared to 84,575 fire safety audits in the 12 months to 31st March 2011.
Of the audits that were carried out 68% were deemed to be satisfactory. Many of the fire and rescue services reported that they have moved from a focus on enforcement to increasing engagement with businesses. Rather than immediately issuing a prosecution where an audit was deemed to be unsatisfactory, the most common action taken was to issue an informal notification.
You can find out more about the inspection programme and details of the inspections completed so far on the HMICFRS website at: https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmicfrs/publications/fire-and-rescue-service-inspections-2018-19/
One thing this does tell us is that you cannot rely on a visit from your local fire service to point out fire safety hazards in your premises. It is important that those responsible for premises take a pro-active approach to fire safety and carry out a suitable fire risk assessment.
Your fire risk assessment will identify who is at risk, what could cause a fire and what could burn, it is then important that you act on the findings of the assessment and take action to control those risks. Action could include keeping flammable substances separate from sources of ignition, maintaining good levels of housekeeping, having suitable fire fighting equipment, keeping fire exits and escape routes clear, considering how you will detect fires and alert people.
Your fire risk assessment needs to be regularly reviewed and updated to make sure it remains relevant. Please speak to your normal PIB Risk Management contact or get in touch using firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or would like to arrange a fire risk assessment.