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17 March 2015
The theme of this year’s Fire Sprinkler Week (16-22 March) is ‘business continuity’ and, as events take off, the Chief Fire Officers Association ( CFOA ) is calling on the government to provide a ‘carrot’ for businesses to install fire sprinklers.
It wants this achieved by introducing a reduction in stamp duty in new or renovated commercial properties that are fitted with sprinklers.
The move has been proposed as part of The Fire and Rescue Service: ‘Making our nation safer’, a document published jointly by the CFOA and the Local Government Association ( LGA ) which includes detailed policy proposals that they would like implemented within the first 100 days of the new parliament, together with their potential financial benefits.
Fire and Rescue Services across the country will use this week to highlight the benefits that fitting automatic fire sprinkler systems can provide to businesses and educational establishments in helping to achieve business continuity.
The CFOA says that ‘the benefits to business, education, and the economy from initiatives to encourage the fitting of sprinklers are manifold, not only in protecting valuable commercial and community assets, but in reducing the impact that a fire can have on the wider supply chain.
‘Many businesses do not recover after a major fire, and this can affect not only the company itself, but its employees, customers and suppliers.’
The Association adds that the cost of business fires is around £1.29 billion a year, so even a small reduction of 1.5% of the £2.9 billion annual stamp duty collected from commercial premises would more than meet the cost of installing sprinklers in the 8000 businesses that caught fire in 2012/13.
Ultimately, the proposals estimate that a reduction in stamp duty would save the public purse £32 million, with a potential benefit to the UK economy of between £59 and £211 million.
Commercial buildings, non-domestic and multi-occupancy premises in England and Wales are already forced to undertake a 'suitable and sufficient' fire risk assessment carried out under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
While the overwhelming majority of premises do this, if the assessment is thought to have been carried out to an insufficient extent, the Responsible Person can face an unlimited fine or up to two years in prison.