A recent review of 200 cases brought under the Fire Safety Act 2005 has identified a 35% increase in fines resulting from breaches of the Fire Safety Order (FSO) since the 2017 Grenfell Tower tragedy. In particular, deficiencies in emergency exits and routes were found to be the most heavily penalised, and the area of the FSO that has been most intensively enforced in the last two years. These findings have significant implications for businesses, particularly in terms of their risk of prosecution and the financial penalties that may result from non-compliance.
What were the review’s findings?
Marking the FSO’s 13th anniversary, fire safety solicitor Warren Spencer and fire safety lawyer James Aird undertook an extensive review of 200 cases brought under the FSO to explore trends and investigate whether the 2017 Grenfell Tower disaster affected prosecution patterns. A combination of government statistics and Spencer’s own primary data formed the basis of his research.
Their key findings were as follows:
- Article 14 relating to emergency routes and exits is the most enforced
- The most prosecutions by a single fire service is 120
- Three fire services have not brought any prosecutions since the order came into force 13 years ago
- A total of £1,230,879 has been handed out in fines
- The average fine between 2014-2019 was £20,375
- Average fine Post Grenfell was £27,519 – 35% higher than the 2014 – 2019 average.
The Grenfell disaster, which cost 72 people their lives, occurred after a fridge freezer fire spread to extremely flammable cladding used throughout the building, and the appointed fire exits were blocked by billowing clouds of poisonous smoke, perhaps explaining the Fire and Rescue Service’s focus on emergency exits.
“There is no doubt that the courts have taken a much more serious approach towards fire safety cases over the last 5 years than in previous years… There is no doubt in my mind that the Grenfell tragedy has increased the seriousness of fire safety offences in the eyes of the court.”
What is your business responsible for?
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 England and Wales came into force in October 2006 and is designed to provide a minimum fire safety standard in all non-domestic premises. The Fire Safety Order (FSO) replaced previous fire safety legislation and any fire certificate issued under the Fire Precautions Act 1971. In a workplace, the person designated as “Responsible” is required to ensure certain fire safety duties are completed including ensuring general fire safety precautions are in place and that fire risk assessments are completed regularly.
How can we help?
If you employ five or more people, are you confident that your competency and knowledge of fire risk is such that you can conduct a thorough fire safety risk assessment for your premises? Do you feel that you have trained your staff adequately to react quickly and efficiently in the event of a fire? If the answer to either of these questions is no, you could be at risk of fines and potential prosecution for non-compliance.
At FireCare Security and Electrical, we provide fire safety services, risk assessments and advice for businesses to help you meet your legal requirements and avoid prosecution. Our free guide to Fire Safety Training highlights the knowledge your employees need to be prepared in the case of a fire, and the steps to take to prevent fire. We offer two types of onsite fire safety training, including:
- basic fire awareness
- fire warden and fire marshal training
To arrange your free fifteen minute fire safety healthcheck, call us on 02380 269 833 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About FireCare Security & Electrical Ltd
At FireCare Security & Electrical we carry out a range of fire safety services, risk assessments and fire safety training for our clients throughout the South Coast and London. Based in Eastleigh, we are well-placed close to the M3 to ensure we can quickly and efficiently service the fire safety requirements of clients throughout Hampshire, Dorset and Surrey.