Fire Safety drill a French farce

Fire Safety drill a French farce

Imagine the scenario. You are a major employer operating a vast organisation employing thousands. You decide to run a mandatory fire drill and the throng of staff and visitors trying to evacuate the building encounter locked fire exits and confusing or inadequate fire safety signage. Many fire alarms throughout the complex also fail to operate causing confusion and mayhem and a designated “safe” assembly point turns out to be a courtyard inside the building surrounded by walls of glass.

I have reported regularly on the enforcement of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order so such a catalogue of fire safety breaches may lead you to think that the current record fine of £400k handed to New Look was likely to be broken by the offending organisation.Fire Action Sign No doubt about it I think but for the fact that this farce happened in a European Parliament building in Strasbourg last week. I understand the French have equivalent legislation to the RRO – probably with onions – although I doubt enforcement is as rigorous as in England!

In an ironic twist it turns out that Alan Brinson, Secretary of the European Fire Safety Forum that advises on European fire safety policy was in a Parliament cafeteria when the alarms rang (well at least some of them) in advance of a meeting of the forum that afternoon. He said that the forum later swapped horror-stories about locked exits and the lack of and were generally appalled. Of course if you are unelected, unaccountable and contemptuous of the common man you can take a different view as did Jerzy Buzek, the president of the Parliament who circulated a note to MEPs on the following evening, saying that the drill had achieved its goal of evacuating the building “rapidly and efficiently” before adding “the security services had begun (sic) a thorough evaluation” or white wash as we call it.

Clearly you can’t buy this level of incompetence cheaply given that the UK will deliver over £6 billion of our cash into the coffers of the EU this year – that equates to £10 billion gross. I suggest that it is appropriate that the European Parliament now take the sensible option and invest in quality British Standard Fire and Smoke detectors and alarms sourced of course from Fire and Safety Centre. I mean the odd million euro is little more than your average MEP’s expenses claim. Always happy to be of service mes amis.


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