London Fire Brigade

London Fire Brigade strengthens links with Islington’s diverse businesses

27 April 2010

Forging stronger community links and explaining important fire safety legislation were top of the agenda when London Fire Brigade hosted a reception for an organisation that represents Islington’s minority business community on Friday 23 April.

The event called Community Link was an opportunity for the Brigade to discuss the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order (RRO) with advisors from the Association of Community Based Business Advisors (ACBBA). ACBBA provide resources and support to grass root organisations in Islington and it is hoped that the advisors will pass on the information to their members which represent 15 diverse communities including Bangladeshi, Chinese and Somali.

The Brigade will outline how important it is for businesses to understand the law and their role in fire safety. Research from Touche Ross and London Chamber of Commerce estimates that up to 80 per cent of businesses fail within 12 months of suffering a major catastrophe, such as a fire. The initiative was set up following a number of enforcement activities carried out by the Brigade at businesses in the borough.

The RRO applies to virtually all buildings, places and structures (the main exception being private homes) so includes premises like shops, restaurants, offices, nightclubs, care homes, sports venues and also communal areas, parts of blocks and houses of multiple occupation (HMOs) used in common by the occupants of more than one flat or bedsit.

The law places the responsibility for fire safety in the hands of employers and other people who have control of premises such as landlords, owners and other people with control of premises, so having an understanding of fire safety and the role they have to play is at the heart of good business management. This understanding is particularly important for small and medium size businesses and landlords who might not consider fire safety to be a top priority.

Station Manager Rick Ogden set up the event and heads up the fire safety team in the City and Islington. He said; “The event was a great success and getting involved with ACBBA allows us to get fire safety information to those who need it the most.  It is essential that anyone who owners a business or premises understands their responsibility under the fire safety order. The amount of businesses that do not recover after a fire shows that during economic hardship it is even more important to take fire safety seriously. You cannot run a good business without good fire safety management.”  

Note to Editors

The biggest change under the legislation is that fire risk assessment and a duty of fire safety care was introduced for most premises and replaced fire certificates for those premises that previously required them (factories, offices, shops, railway premises, hotels and larger boarding houses). If you are an employer or have control over a premises (known as the ‘responsible person’) then you are required by law to carry out a fire risk assessment and act on its findings. The risk assessment should also identify actions which need to be taken in order to protect the building from fire. It must be kept under constant review and amended if any changes are made to the premises.

London Fire Brigade carries out around 14,000 fire inspections of premises each year and although the majority of buildings are managed well in regard to fire, there are still too many buildings that do not have an adequate fire risk assessment and as a result have fire exits blocked, inadequate fire alarms or poor training for staff. The Brigade can and does prosecute companies or individuals if there are breaches to fire legislation and though court action is a last resort, recent cases show that the courts will issue fines or even consider prison sentences for serious cases.