Category Archives: Fire Risk Assessment

Business owners and consultants contracted to provide Fire Risk Assessments have been given a stark reminder of the serious nature of the attention paid to Fire Safety legislation following the sentencing of two people at Nottingham Crown Court.

David Liu, who runs two hotels in Mansfield, was jailed for 8 months and ordered to pay £15,000 costs after pleading guilty to 15 Fire Safety offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

John O’Rourke, the fire safety consultant who undertook the fire risk assessments , was also jailed for 8 months after he pleaded guilty to two breaches of Fire Safety requirements in relation to the inadequacy of Fire Risk Assessments he provided for the hotels.

The Judge said that the time had come to send out a message to those who conduct Fire Risk Assessments and to hoteliers who are prepared to put profit before safety.

Fire Protection Officers from Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service had visited both premises and found that the fire precautions which should have been provided to protect residents and employees in the event of a fire were inadequate. This presented a serious risk to the lives to Mr Liu’s customers and staff, so they issued prohibition notices preventing any further use of both premises as hotels until suitable improvements had been made.

Mr Liu was prosecuted because he was the responsible person for both premises, and failed to make sure they were safe for customers staying there. Mr O’Rourke was prosecuted because he carried out Fire Risk Assessments at both hotels, but those assessments were wholly inadequate.

Today Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service is reminding all owners and occupiers of buildings of their legal responsibility to protect their customers and staff against the risk of fire and warning them that, where necessary, action will be taken against anyone found to be in breach of Fire Safety regulations.

Ian Taylor, Fire Protection Group Manager at Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “It is a legal requirement for places of work to have a Fire Risk Assessment. Guidance on Fire Risk Assessment and Fire Safety measures appropriate for different types of premises are available on the Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service website and also on that of the Department for Communities and Local Government. The guides are to assist employers to undertake a Fire Risk Assessment.

“If employers are unsure about their own ability to undertake a Fire Risk Assessment within their premises they should seek advice from a competent person. In ascertaining someone’s competence to provide Fire Safety advice I would encourage people to ask for references, be aware of what Fire Safety training and qualifications they have and check to see if they are registered or accredited with an appropriate third party body.”

Following advice from the Chief Fire and Rescue Adviser, the Secretary of State has determined, under article 36 of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 that, the use of self-closing devices on bedroom fire doors provides the most appropriate solution to remedy the failure to comply with article 14 (2) (b) of the Order.

It is based entirely on the circumstances and conditions of the care home analysed and decisions made subsequent tp careful consideration of the circumstances relating to this case.

A copy of the advice of the Chief Fire and Rescue Adviser to the Secretary of State underpinning this determination is available at http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/fire/selfclosingdevices

The care home provider had sought to utilise a ‘management proceedure’ of manually closing bedroom doors within the care home in the event of fire alarm sounding. They sought advice from a fire engineer, who in our opinion, incorrectly applied Zone modelling to a complex and highly critical life safety condition.

Zone models are a tool within the fire engineers armoury, but was in this instance applied incorrectly. Full CFD modelling would have been more appropriate in this situation however there was a high dependency of the care home plan on staff intervention.

It utilised an ‘ideal’ situation where staff were free to go an check the fire alarm, then call the fire service while moving to the location of the fire alarm actuating, closing the doors within the zone affected.

This was a flawed management plan that any experienced and competent fire risk assessor would advised against from the outset. This should have been carefully explained to the care home provider, and at that point, if the care home provider had insisted on doing things their way, the fire risk assessor and client should have parted company.

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