04 September 2014
The Huddersfield Daily Examiner has reported that three quarters of all business premises in the Metropolitan area of West Yorkshire, given safety checks by Fire Service Officers in 2013/14, were found to be well below the required standard.
The report, which branded West Yorkshire as having the worst record in England, was based on an analysis of Government statistics for fire and rescue authorities, which showed that “75.3% of shops, offices and other premises visited and audited in 2013/14 by West Yorkshire fire officers were unsatisfactory.”
Fire chiefs have said that the statistics reflect the way in which they prioritise their checks, meaning that premises that are thought to be at higher risk are given more attention.
“The Brigade’s officers carried out 1,802 fire safety audits of non-domestic premises in 2013/14, with just 445 found to be satisfactory and 1,357 found to be unsatisfactory,” reports the Examiner.
As a comparison, in the Greater London Metropolitan Area, Fire Officers carried out 13,275 checks, with 10,398 (78.3%) given a satisfactory rating and 2,877 (21%) pronounced unsatisfactory.
In England, the average is around one third (35.5%) unsatisfactory, although this year’s result for West Yorkshire (75.3%) is an improvement on 2012/13 figures (88.8%).
Nationally there were 71 prosecutions in England for failing to comply with fire safety regulations in 2013/14. Four of these related to schools, 14 to shops and 13 to licensed premises such as pubs and clubs.
Chris Kemp, West Yorkshire’s senior fire protection manager, advised caution in interpreting the statistics.
He said: “Inspectors from West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service carry out audits of non-domestic premises within West Yorkshire. In order to prioritise these inspections we use a Risk Based Inspection Programme (RBIP) that allows us to target those premises which we consider pose a higher risk to occupants.
“Through the development of our RBIP we are able to ensure that premises which are compliant are less likely to receive a visit from a specialist fire safety inspector as this causes unwanted burden on the business and ties our inspectors up when they could be dealing with premises which present a significant risk.”
Recently published Government operational statistics and audits for all fire authorities can be found here.
A document details fire safety audits carried out by the Fire and Rescue Services in England can be found here .
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.