I know I have been guilty, if that’s the word, of repeatedly urging businesses to take the new Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order seriously. Described by many industry professional as a can of worms or worse, the plain fact is that the Fire & Rescue Services around the country are warming to the challenge of enforcement.
In my home town, the managing agents of the Frenchgate Shopping Centre, Doncaster’s principal haven for the shopaholics amongst us is having to pay fines and costs that total over £25,000, after being found guilty of breaches of the new fire safety legislation.
Now shopping with the exception of edibles is not really my thing – I am dragged to the Frenchgate Centre by my good wife albeit kicking and screaming a few times a year but she and my family are in there probably once a week, so it is worrying that an outfit of that size could be so irresponsible as to disregard fire safety when thousands pass through their doors every week. Well maybe hundreds in these hard times. It is fair to say that the Company claimed that no lives were put at risk but I find that hard to believe and now fortunately and hopefully we will never know.
The prosecution which was brought by South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue against the agents BTW Shiells of Belfast, determined that the fire safety management team on site was sufficiently depleted to undermine its ability to carry out appropriate fire precautions. The agents pleaded guilty to five counts of failing to comply with their duties under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
All you businesses out there should note these failures listed below, as they effectively sum up the responsibilities you are legally bound to deliver to comply with the RRO – or face similar legal action.
Take adequate general fire precautions
Make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks to relevant persons
Give effect to appropriate preventative and protective measures
Appoint adequate competent persons to undertake preventative and protective measures
Provide adequate safety training for staff
Would be shoppers will be comforted to know all the failings outlined have been addressed in the period between initial prosecution and judgement and the fire safety provisions within Doncaster Frenchgate Centre have been given a clean bill of health.