NEWS AND UPDATES
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- Prohibition and Enforcement notices
CARE HOME FINED FOR FIRE SAFETY BREACHES
31 July 2012
The owners of a care home in Kendray, Barnsley, have had to pay more than £11,000 in fines and costs for breaching fire safety legislation.
Park Care Ltd, the owners of Park Grange nursing home, pleaded guilty to three breaches of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 on 19 July at Sheffield Magistrates Court. The breaches were a failure to put in place suitable fire emergency procedures, failing to rectify defective fire doors, and a failure to carry out a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment.
Officers from South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service highlighted the problems in August 2011, and then issued an enforcement notice on 1 September 2011. The decision to prosecute was taken after the company failed to comply with the enforcement notice.
Terry Guthrie of South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service said:
"These breaches were so serious that had there been a fire at the home there was a real danger that residents would have been seriously injured or worse."
"Care homes are responsible for the safety of vulnerable residents and they need to adhere to fire safety regulations. Where we find these regulations aren't followed we will take swift action."
Roger Shipley, a director of Park Care Ltd said:
"We have always prided ourselves in being an excellent care home. We were unaware of the change of stance of the fire service from advising to enforcing and we feel we were given little support during the process. I feel that the only way to avoid such action in future is to employ fire safety professionals to advise us."
BLAZE PROMPTS PLUG-IN AIR FRESHENER WARNING
13 September 2011
Twenty firefighters tackled a fire in a bungalow that is believed to have been caused by a plug-in air freshener.
Four fire engines attended the property in Stanmore in Middlesex on Thursday 8 September at around 9.30pm.
London Fire Brigade believes the fire was caused by a plug-in air freshener that overheated because it was covered by clothing. The fire was under control shortly after 10pm.
Stanmore watch manager, Simon Horn, said: “When we arrived we were faced with an intense fire and crews did extremely well to stop it from spreading to the roof and adjacent properties. Thankfully nobody was in the bungalow at the time of the fire.
“If people use plug-in air fresheners, they need to be careful to follow the instructions and never place materials next to or on top of them, as they can overheat and cause a fire.”
PRISON SENTENCE FOR FIRE RISK ASSESSOR
8 July 2011
WARNING TO LOCAL BUSINESSES AFTER LANDMARK FIRE SAFETY PROSECUTION
Business owners and companies contracted to provide Fire Risk Assessments to businesses are being advised to pay greater attention to Fire Safety legislation following the sentencing of two Mansfield men at Nottingham Crown Court today.
David Liu, who runs The Dial Hotel and Market Inn, both in Market Place, 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, who runs Mansfield Fire Protection Services, Mansfield, was also jailed for 8 months and was ordered to pay £5,862.38 after he pleaded guilty to two breaches of Fire Safety requirements in relation to the inadequacy of Fire Risk Assessments he provided for Mr Liu’s 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.”
Further Fire Safety advice and guidance upon all types of premises is available at http://www.communities.gov.uk/fire/firesafety/firesafetylaw/
Help regarding Fire Safety in non-domestic premises is available from Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service Fire Safety advice line on 0115 957 5231 or email firstname.lastname@example.org .
THERMATECH LAUNCHES FIRE DOOR MAINTENANCE SERVICE
Thermatech Fire Consultants now provides a national fire door maintenance & upgrade service. This side of the business will be known as “TFC Fire Door Solutions”.
The managing director of Thermatech, Ashley Wood, says ‘a very large percentage of fire risk assessments identify that the installed fire doors within a building fail to meet the legislative requirements due to neglect and poor fitting or maintenance. These are vital fire safety components and provide a front line of defence against fire and smoke’.
So many enforcement notices and prohibition notices have been issued by the fire authorities against landlords and building operators for failings associated with fire doors, some fines have been very large ranging from £5,000 to £15,000 per fire door!
TFC Fire Door Solutions will carry out a free fire door survey (available via www.thermatech.uk.com) and issue a report of the findings. Should maintenance be carried out or upgrades provided, the work will be checked by one of our fire engineers and certificated as compliant.
The service is aimed at multiple properties or large building owners.
For further details view the web site or contact us on 01379 668034
Landlord given suspended prison sentence for fire safety failures
10 May 2011
A residential landlord has been given a suspended prison sentence and ordered to pay more than £10,000 in costs after pleading guilty to four breaches of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
Inderjit Singh was given a six month sentence to be served concurrently on each of the four offences, suspended for 18 months. He had previously pleaded guilty to the offences at a hearing in March 2011 at Harrow Crown Court.
Following a fire in March 2009 at a house in multiple occupation in Hayes, west London, investigators found there were no fire alarms or detection in the common areas of the property, inadequate fire doors and that no fire risk assessment had been carried out.
In the nine month period leading up to the fire, Hillingdon Council had contacted Mr Singh about fire safety and general improvements to the property, according to London Fire Brigade.
“This verdict sends out a clear message that if landlords ignore fire safety then they will face serious penalties,” said Steve Turek, assistant commissioner for fire safety regulation. “Mr. Singh was given plenty of time to improve fire safety inside the property but failed to comply.
“The London Fire Brigade works hard to make companies and individuals understand their responsibilities under fire safety law and only uses prosecution as a last resort.”
Ashley Wood earns 3rd party accreditatio
Ashley has proven his ability and competency under the FRACS (Fire Risk Assessors Accreditation Scheme). The scheme recognises the high level of competency as a fire risk assessor and grants a UKAS accreditation.
FRACS provides a practising fire risk assessor with an independent technical reference which proves the competence to produce a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment. It offers a market advantage over those assessors without accredited certification who have to prove competence by other means.
In the public sector where due diligence has to be seen to be served; local authorities, schools, housing associations, etc can appoint a FRACS assessor with full confidence as the assessment is in accordance with a government approved model similar to that for gas and electrical installers. It also enables FRACS assessors to provide a certificate of completion for the responsible person/duty holder.
FRACS is the only third party accreditation scheme in the country and has very exacting standards to achieve to become UKAS accredited.
For full details of the FRACS scheme go to www.warringtonfire.net/riskassessor
Blaze at Lakanal House's neighbouring block
A fire at Marie Curie House – which is next to Lakanal House in Camberwell, London where six people died last year – has severely damaged a maisonette on the thirteenth floor.
Six fire engines and around 30 firefighters were called to the building at around 6.30 pm on Monday. The fire, which was confined to a bedroom and interior hallway and did not spread to other properties in the building, was under control by 8.45pm.
The cause of the fire is being investigated but is not thought to be suspicious.
In the wake of the Lakanal House tragedy in July 2009, Southwark Council conducted what it described as an “intrusive” inspection of similar blocks, including Marie Curie House, and embarked on a programme to upgrade fire safety at the block. The following month, the council was served with three enforcement notices, one of which related to Marie Curie House.
In September 2009 a further fire risk assessment on the block was carried out by external fire safety consultants. Among its conclusions were that the standards of compartmentation and of the protection of escape routes were inadequate, and areas such as the storage of combustible materials, maintenance of systems and record keeping needed to be improved.
Inadequate fire risk assessments
In January this year, the council conceded that its approach to fire risk assessments on complex high rise blocks was inadequate prior to the fire at Lakanal House. Inspections of buildings of seven storeys and above are now carried out by external experts, while buildings of five or six storeys are done by the council’s fire safety team. Low rise buildings are inspected by housing officers with the support of the fire safety team.
Southwark Council has now completed a £1.4m refurbishment programme for Marie Curie House which, it says, has addressed all the actions raised by the fire risk assessments.
Responding to the fact that around 60 people evacuated themselves from the building during Monday’s fire in spite of a ‘stay put’ policy for such blocks, a spokesman for London Fire Brigade told Info4fire:
“It is accepted [London Fire Brigade] and national advice and guidance for residents that if there is a fire elsewhere in the building, you're usually safer staying in your flat unless heat or smoke is affecting you. The fire was contained to the flat of origin and residents would have been safe to remain in the building. On this occasion the residents left the building of their own accord.”
Commenting on the fire, Ian Wingfield, Southwark Council cabinet member for housing, said: "This was an unfortunate incident but thankfully no one was hurt. I realise residents may be concerned. I want to reassure them that we are taking every step to ensure their safety."
Following more than 3,000 fire risk assessments, Southwark Council says only 28 needed urgent action to reduce the overall risk. Work has included the installation of fire resisting doors, the fitting of smoke alarms and the stripping out of false ceilings. The council has committed £19m to ensure that the risk from fire across all its housing stock is reduced to a “tolerable” level by 2012.
Spurs boss Harry Redknapp among guests fleeing hotel fire
AROUND 200 guests had to be evacuated from a prestigious Docklands hotel after a fire started in the kitchen.
Among them were Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp, who was staying at the Marriott ahead of his team’s game with Blackburn tomorrow afternoon.
The blaze started at the Marriott Hotel in West India Quay at 10pm on Thursday, with guests and staff not able to return inside until 2.30am.
Ten fire engines and around 50 firefighters attended the 999 call after fire took hold on a grill at the hotel restaurant’s show kitchen.
Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus carried out a search of the building and six people from apartments above the hotel were helped out via internal staircases.
London Ambulance Service were also at the scene and treated a number of people for smoke inhalation.
While some guests were found rooms in nearby hotels, others were helped by goodwill gestures from the neighbouring Brown’s and Via Fossa.
“We have to say a big thank you to them as they stayed open to serve people tea and coffee,” said a hotel spokeswoman.
“Marriott’s highest priority is the health and safety of our guests and associates. None of us wishes to spend a night in a less comfortable area than the hotel room, but due to last nights’ incident, this situation was unfortunately not avoidable. We of course did not charge any of your travelers for last night’s accommodation.”
The fire damaged part of a restaurant on the ground floor of the building and also affected some ducting from the ground floor to the second floor.
An investigation into what caused the fire is ongoing.
Prohibition notice served after serious fire in flats
The owner of a block of flats in Bolton has been served a prohibition notice under the Housing Act 2004, following a serious fire. Inadequate means of escape and poor fire resistance throughout the block were among the breaches of fire safety regulations highlighted by Manchester Fire and Rescue Service.
Fire safety officers also found the fire doors to be inadequate and said that some were even missing.
A joint inspection by Manchester Fire and Rescue Service and the local council took place after the blaze, which started in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
The fire spread from the lobby of the ground floor to the ceiling, causing the plaster to burn through. A female was rescued from her room and taken to hospital suffering from severe smoke inhalation while a further 12 people were led to safety by firefighters from both the front and rear of the three-storey block. A total of 25 firefighters battled the fire, using hose reel jets.
The block was mixed use accommodation, with flats as well as commercial premises. The fire is currently under police investigation.
Experts call for national register of fire risk assessors
The need for a national register of fire risk assessors to help drive out ‘cowboys’ is to be highlighted at Firex North later this month.
Simon Ince, manager for personnel certification schemes at Warrington Certification, will call for the standardisation of competence assessment to help create a single listing of competent fire risk assessors across the UK.
So far, the Institute of Fire Safety Managers and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors has supported the call for a unified register. Other stakeholder organisations are said to be looking at the merits of the proposal.
“We know there is a real need for such a register, said Mr Ince. “We will be asking for further support at Firex North and we believe this is a critical issue for the industry to tackle. A national register would offer the responsible person/duty holders a level of protection which has thus far been unavailable.
“Unfortunately, the ‘cowboys’ within the industry are not easy to spot. The end user urgently needs protection, as it is they who are ultimately in the firing line when a serious fire occurs and subsequent prosecution follows.”
Two further presentations on fire risk assessor competency and accreditation – from Nick Coombe, CFOA lead on enforcement policy and from Stephen Adams, general manager of BAFE – will also be held at Firex North.
Four people rescued from blaze at Manchester residential block
Four people were taken to hospital suffering the effects of smoke inhalation following a blaze at a block of flats in Manchester on Sunday (September 19th).
The incident in a three-storey block of flats on Browfield Avenue in the Ordsall area of Salford was attended by crews from Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service.
Firefighters from Salford, Manchester Central and Agecroft Fire Stations arrived at the scene to find six local residents trapped by flames and smoke from the fire, which involved the stairwell of the building.
They immediately mounted a rescue operation for the trapped individuals and brought the blaze under control, according to the fire service, which said two residents managed to escape before firefighters arrived.
It is not known whether fire detection and alarm systems had any role in aiding their early escape, but the incident highlights the importance of having such arrangements in place.
Easily accessible fire extinguishers could also come in handy the moment a fire starts and help prevent it from escalating.
Needs of responsible person to be key in national risk assessor scheme
The move towards a nationally recognised quality assurance scheme for fire risk assessors has stepped up a gear with the appointment of Iain Cox, the Chief Fire Officers Association’s director of prevention and protection, as chair of an expanded working group.
The group – made up of representatives from professional bodies, trade associations and certification bodies – had previously met under the auspices of the Communities and Local Government department, and was set up following last year’s government report into the impact of the Fire Safety Order 2005. That report highlighted concerns over the variable quality of fire risk assessments and the need to clarify who has an appropriate level of competence.
The working group is aiming to conclude a set of competency criteria to carry out fire risk assessments, and has agreed that the needs of the ‘responsible person’ should be central to its work. The criteria could then be used for individual certification schemes – accredited by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) – both for individuals and companies offering risk assessment services.
Last year, Warrington Certification announced a third party certification scheme for fire risk assessors accredited by the UKAS. In 2008, the Fire Industry Association (FIA) established its risk assessment council for companies providing risk assessment services. The FIA is now working with BAFE to develop a competency scheme for such companies, in parallel to the work being carried out on individual risk assessors.
Martin Duggan, general manager of the FIA, said: “It’s a difficult process trying to get all stakeholders to agree on anything, let alone a subject where everyone has already been developing their own pathways. However, the result would provide such a fundamental building block for fire risk assessors and assessments, it is worth the pain.”
Arson reduction initiative launched in conjunction with 'smart water'
ARSON IS ON THE INCREASE
Most cases of arson are opportunist attacks by young persons or persons under the influence of alcohol or drugs. On occasions fires are started in an attempt to destroy forensic evidence linking a person to a crime.
We at Thermatech (TFC) in conjunction with the worlds leading crime prevention company ‘Smart water’, have launched an ‘arson reduction initiative’. The initiative combines the expert knowledge of fire safety specialists, crime prevention specialists and the widely used and accepted ‘smart water’ product.
Thermatech will carry out a detailed fire risk assessment, arson reduction survey and a physical security assessment. The findings are recorded within a report along with recommendations as to how to put right what is wrong and what a client needs to do to reduce the chance of an arson attack on their premises.
We have solutions available that greatly reduce the likelihood of an arson attack and security breach occurring within disused vacant buildings. This is very beneficial for landlords who have a duty of care to persons entering a disused building such as a public house, club, warehouse etc
We at Thermatech (TFC) are committed to assisting you reduce the circumstances where your buildings are susceptible to attack.
TFC... ‘Together Fighting Crime‘
30/04/2009: Two of TFC fire engineers have recently completed training in the correct selection and installation of passive fire protection products. It is essential that a building is able to provide the maximum amount of time available to enable escape in the event of fire, and to provide protection to fire fighters. Fire breaks built into buildings must be able to provide a minimum of 60 minutes fire resistance as detailed within building control approved document B and within the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. It is essential that the contractors who are tasked with filling holes and gaps caused by the installation of building services such as plumbing, lighting etc understand the importance of the task and are third party accredited. NAPFIS is a third party accreditation scheme. A NAPFIS installer will certificate their work, and NAPFIS will at any time carry out a quality and compliance audit on the projects.
National Association of Passive Fire Installers and Specifiers
11/11/2008: Thermatech Fire Consultants Ltd (TFC) have become a member of the Fire Industry Association (FIA). The association is dedicated to recognising quality and professionalism within the fire protection industry. In addition to membership TFC have also been accepted to act as a council member of the Fire Risk Assessors council. The council will be working to establish a high level of professional competency amongst all organisations offering the service of 'fire risk assessment'. For further information about the FIA or the Fire Risk Assessors Council please contact our council representative Mr Ashley Wood via e-mail email@example.com
Recognised by the Institution of Fire Engineers
Ashley Wood (consultant) has been awarded IFE accreditation and is now a registered fire risk assessor. The IFE offer a third party accreditation scheme to assess the competency of persons offering to carry out fire risk assessments, fire audits etc. The 'road' to inclusion on the IFE register of approved risk assessors can take up to 6 months.
During this time the applicants will be assessed by a panel of their peers, they will be asked to provide evidence of there fire risk assessments and will be asked to provide references from past clients. There are currently only 50 registered fire risk assessors on the IFE register for the whole of the UK, all of them highly experienced fire engineers in there own right.
Ashley said 'I decided that whilst there are other third party accreditation schemes operating, the IFE is recognised as the organisation best associated with the fire profession. By undertaking to achieve this standard it provides confidence to our customers that they are dealing with a recognised professional's.
Information that may affect you!Information sheet: 001
FIRE SAFETY LAW
New fire safety rules affecting all non-domestic premises in England and Wales will come into force on 1 October 2006. The new law will:
- Emphasize preventing fires and reducing risk
- Make it your responsibility to ensure the safety of everyone who uses your premises and in the immediate vicinity
- Do away with the need for fire certificates
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order, made in June 2005, was due to come into force in April 2006, but in January the department announced it was deferring to give business and stakeholders more time to prepare. See links for relevant news releases.
How will you know if you will be affected by the law change?
- Are you responsible for business premises?
- Are you an employer?
- Self-employed with business premises?
- A charity or voluntary organisation?
- A contractor with a degree of control over any premises?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions then you will need to act now. If you fail to act you will be prosecuted and may face a fine of up to £20,000 and a custodial sentence.
Information sheet: 002
GUIDANCE FOR BUSINESSES AND ORGANISATIONS
Fire kills. In 2003, there were 3,401 fires in industrial premises resulting in 3 deaths and 153 other casualties*.
Fire also costs money. On average, each fire in industrial premises costs approximately £60,100**.
All employers have a responsibility to ensure the safety of employees and visitors during hours of work and at places of work.
The information provided below relates to general fire safety and regulations. If in doubt, or if you require more specific information, please contact your local Fire and Rescue Service who will be happy to provide you with the information and guidance you need.
*Fire Statistics (2003)
**Economic Cost of Fires Report 2005
Frequently asked questions
What is the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order?
It will be a consolidation of nearly all existing fire safety legislation
Who will it affect?
Primarily employers and building owners but it could be anyone who has some control over premises.
What will I have to do?
Mainly, carry out a fire risk assessment and act on the findings.
I have a fire certificate….. Will that be enough?
No. Fire certificates will no longer be valid. However a fairly recent fire certificate will be a good starting point for your fire risk assessment.
Will fire precautions have to be improved? / Will it cost me anything?
(Answer for both) Yes & No! If you are already fully complying with existing legislation then it should be fairly simple. If you have not kept your fire precautions up to date there may be some additional areas to look at.
Will the Fire & Rescue service still inspect my premises?
In some cases yes, particularly in higher risk premises. But they cannot carry out your fire risk assessment for you.
How can I find out more?
Contact Thermatech Fire Consultants.