11 Apr 2019
To complete your own fire risk assessment you need to be deemed competent to be able to produce a suitable and sufficient assessment. This legislation was a major change to fire risk assessments and over 100 pieces of legislation was repealed when the Regulatory Reform Fire Safety Order (RRFSO) 2005 was introduced.
For those of you that can remember, the Fire Authority would previously provide a Fire Certificate for premises. However, for some years prior to the RRFSO coming in to force there was dual system in place whereby insurers favoured the risk assessment approach and commercial clients were obtaining the fire certificate from the Fire Service and having a fire risk assessment completed.
One of the first prosecutions for failures under the RRFSO 2005 occurred on...
8th July 2011
An external fire risk assessor and a hotel manager were both jailed for eight months for fire safety offences.
David Liu, who ran The Dial Hotel and Market Inn, both in Mansfield, had previously pleaded guilty to 15 offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, while John O’Rourke of Mansfield Fire Protection Services pleaded guilty to two offences under the legislation.
Sentencing the two defendants at Nottingham Crown Court, 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.
Officers from Nottingham Fire and Rescue Service visited both hotels as part of a routine inspection. They found that both premises were being used to provide sleeping accommodation on the upper floors and that fire precautions, which should have been provided to safeguard the occupants in the event of a fire, were inadequate.
Due to the serious risk to life, they issued prohibition notices preventing any further use of both premises for sleeping accommodation until suitable improvements had been made.
Mr O’Rourke was prosecuted because he had prepared fire risk assessments for both premises. However the fire risk assessments failed to identify a number of significant deficiencies, said the prosecution, which would have placed the occupants at serious risk in the event of a fire.
What offences did he commit?
The offences common to both hotels to which Mr Liu, as the responsible person, pleaded guilty were:
- A lack of a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment
- A failure to ensure effective means of escape with doors leading onto corridors not being fire resisting or having self-closers fitted
- A failure to ensure that emergency routes and exits were provided with emergency lighting
- A failure to ensure the premises were equipped with appropriate firefighting equipment, detectors and alarms in that there was no fire detection within the bedrooms
- A failure to ensure that equipment and devices provided were subject to a suitable system of maintenance in that the fire alarm system, emergency lighting system and firefighting equipment were not tested.
In addition at the Dial Hotel, officers found both staircases from upper levels terminating in the same ground floor area with no alternative escape routes or separation, a locked fire exit door, and exit routes obstructed by combustible materials.
The other offence at the Market Inn related to a missing fire door and a window not being fire resisting.
Mr Liu was also ordered to pay costs of £15,000.
John O’Rourke, as a person other than the responsible person who had some control of the premises, pleaded guilty to two counts (one for each hotel) of failing to provide a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment. He was ordered to pay costs of £5,860.
The article above was prior to the increased sentencing guidelines and we would anticipate fines to be much higher today.
So, while it is possible to conduct a fire risk assessment of your own accord, the consequences of slipping up can be dire and costly.
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