I had an enlightening conversation with my hairdresser the other day. She was asking which fire extinguisher to use in the salon and I told her about the “new” (it’s been around since 2005) Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order or the RRO and the requirement to conduct a Risk Assessment.
“Do a what??” was the reply. Like so many other small sole trader businesses knowledge of the existence of the RRO is scant and knowledge of the detail largely non-existent. She made the quite reasonable observation that she was a qualified hairdresser (and I can vouch a damn good one) and not a qualified fire safety officer and to hire a “professional” risk assessor to pontificate on her two room salon was a cost too far. I recall the words “bloody ridiculous” being used.
The problem with the RRO is that its lack of prescriptive guidance leaves the small businesses that make up the vast majority of the economy with a real problem as under the RRO they are usually the responsible person charged with ensuring fire safety and yet have absolutely no qualification to be so responsible.
In the good old days before what I view as the cynical dissection of the Fire Brigades, done more to save more money than save more lives, your friendly fireman would pop along and tell you exactly what was needed.
My Hairdresser who now has the benefit of some free advice on what to install is happy but how many more businesses are struggling to understand or are plain ignoring the RRO?
The next batch of Fire Statistics for the UK is due in May of this year. As the figures will be for the year 2007 we will hopefully begin to compare with the stats from the years under the previous regulatory regime. Have you ever questioned why it takes the Government over 2 years to produce these statistics and yet it can tell you exactly what route you were driving this morning and at what speed and probably the name of your dog, given at most a couple of days notice. All about priorities I guess.