Lancashire buildings ‘fail to meet’ fire safety standards
LANCASHIRE FIRE and Rescue Service (LFRS) found that three quarters of flats and public buildings ‘are failing to meet fire safety standards’.
LancsLive reported on the LFRS data release from the Home Office, which revealed that the fire and rescue service (FRS) carried out 1,662 fire safety audits in 2018/19, of which 72% or 1,194 were ‘unsatisfactory’, with buildings in the county ‘much more likely to be failing to meet safety standards than those in other parts of the country’.
A third of audits across England were marked as ‘unsatisfactory’, with 1,068 in Lancashire identifying that those responsible for fire safety at a premises ‘had failed to take general fire precautions’, while there were also 335 instances where those responsible ‘hadn’t ensured that emergency routes and exits were being kept clear at all times’.
The news outlet noted that audits cover non domestic buildings as well as communal areas of residential buildings, and that it was up to FRSs to decide how many audits are undertaken per year ‘based on their own risk-based inspection programme’, meaning that ‘higher levels of unsatisfactory audits may be due to a plan targeting higher-risk buildings’.
In Lancashire, 234 care homes were marked as unsatisfactory, alongside 80 pubs and bars, 13 hospitals, 12 schools and 80 blocks of flats, with LFRS issuing 1,010 informal notifications that told building owners ‘what they need to do to make the premise[s] fire safe’, a fall from 1,317 in the year before. A total of 161 formal notifications had been issued, including 145 enforcement notices, nine prohibition notices and one prosecution.
That prosecution had related to ‘not keeping emergency exit routes clear’ and ‘not ensuring the premises had appropriate smoke detectors and fire extinguishers’. An LFRS spokesperson stated: ‘Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service protection staff work on a risk based approach. The figures released yesterday by the Home Office show that our targeting is working well with 72% of the premises we audit, failing to meet the fire safety standards.
‘Less than 10% of these audits result in formal notices being served and this highlights the work that we do with businesses to help them comply with the regulations. Of the 145 enforcement notices we issued last year, 101 of these premises have now made the required changes to comply with The Fire Safety Order. We have protection teams based across the county who will provide advice to business owners and landlords about the fire safety regulations.’
The national figures for England stated that 49,327 audits were undertaken in 2018/19, ‘virtually unchanged’ from the year before but 27% fewer than five years before, with two thirds of the 2018/19 audits satisfactory, a ‘similar proportion’ to previous years. Shops were the most common type audited with 18% of the total, followed by care homes with 14% and purpose built flats with 13%.
FRSs issued 14,514 informal notices in 2018/19 for improvements, alongside 2,390 formal notices, with the number of the latter rising from 2,025 in 2016/17 and 2,239 in 2017/18. This last year’s formal notices included 1,479 enforcement notices, 775 prohibition notices, 91 alteration notices and 45 prosecutions.