Luke Bilton

Director, Digital & Content, UBM

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Luke is Director of Digital & Content for UBM EMEA London, the media business behind IFSEC Global and IFSEC live events.
June 20, 2017

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FIREX 2017

London Fire Brigade: “Every day we see unsuitable fire risk assessments”

Andy Jack, Head of Regulatory Enforcement at London Fire Brigade spoke to a packed audience at FIREX 2017 about the inadequate fire risk assessments he sees “every day of the week”.

Taking pains to mention that he is not commenting on Grenfell Tower, which is currently under criminal investigation, Andy Jack spelled out the role of ‘responsible persons’ in fire risk assessment.

“It is twenty years since fire risk assessment came in and ten years since reg 38 (or 16B) packs were introduced but has it made any difference?” he asked the audience.

 

Responsible for what?

“The law spells out the needs for responsible persons, but responsible for what?”

Article 9 from the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 explains that:

“The responsible person must make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks to which relevant persons are exposed for the purpose of identifying the measures they need to take to comply with the requirements and prohibitions imposed on them by the Order.”

However “the law doesn’t explain what responsible persons are responsible for and the ‘suitable and sufficient assessment’ in article 9 means, very broad” said Andy.

 

Are these fire risk assessments suitable and sufficient?

Andy Jack explained a number of assessments that, as an enforcer, he sees coming across his desk every day

There are many cases where the fire risk assessor did not go to all parts of the building e.g. a locked manager’s office or false ceilings, leaving areas of the building unchecked.It is common for assessors to ignore basements or top floors.

Excuses can range from difficulty accessing the building to safety, but “these things are are simply wrong.”

In other cases, Andy sees assessors completely misconstruing what building is made of

“The assessment tells us that the premises are of brick and concrete constructuion, when it’s actually made from timber frame with studwork.”

 

“Too often Fire Information Packs don’t get passed to the fire risk assessor who is missing out on a whole wealth of information”.

 

What have London Fire Brigade have learned?

It is clear there is an inconsistent views on who is responsible and liable for fire risk assessments but “you can’t get rid of the duty, you can’t saw it’s nothing to do with you,  or to mitigate your responsibility”.

Co-operation and co-ordination between the responsible person and their fire risk assessor is often  is not all it might be and causing problems.

Jack’s advice to the industry is:

“Get co-operation working to get a better fire risk assessment, reduce risk to relevant persons, and reduce risk of litigation from the likes of me. I’d rather I didn’t have to do it at all, to be honest. There are plenty of things I’d much rather do with my time than litigating.”

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3 Comments on "London Fire Brigade: “Every day we see unsuitable fire risk assessments”"

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Vin Maher
Guest

I totally agree, when I get my ladder out and check ceiling voids I often receive comments like ‘ nobody has ever done that before’. If you are going to comment on the condition of fire resisting doors you also need to be including the wall that they are installed into.

james c
Guest
Jequally more in-depth fire authority inspections are required on premises , to check on compartmentation etc,,especially sleeping risk premises,rather than taking everything recorded at face value in a written fire risk assessment.There has been a recent initiative coming from government and fed down to CFOA,which have passed on the information that fire inspectors are taking too long conducting fire safety inspections on commercial premises which is disrupting business and ultimately profits!!.The result? short audits.8 simple questions which can be discussed in an office and if happy no walk around inspection is required. Instead of CFOA challenging this short audit approach… Read more »
Steve Letch
Guest

I just wish that when anyone quotes the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 that they actual use the wording of the Law (see what Article 9 actually states) rather than their own made up version. Paraphrasing often changes the meaning of the Law, as seen by the Lacors Guidance document which rewords the definition of RISK.

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