The London Fire Brigade has today warned the owners of clubs, pubs and restaurants in the capital not to be complacent about fire safety, after over 230 people were killed following a fire in a Brazil nightclub.
Under UK fire safety laws, responsibility for fire safety lies with business owners who are legally required to have up-to-date fire safety plans, including a fire risk assessment, which take into account how people would escape in the event of a fire. The London Fire Brigade inspects thousands of business premises every year, including many nightclubs, and if business owners are found to be failing to comply with the law they can be fined tens of thousands of pounds, or in the worst cases be sent to prison.
In the wake of the tragic fire in Santa Maria, Brazil, London’s fire chiefs are urging business owners to check that their fire safety plans are up-to-date and that they have completed a fire risk assessment of their premises. Things they need to consider are:
• Staircases and corridors should be kept clear
• Fire exit doors must not be blocked or locked from the outside
• Exit routes should be well marked
• Fire extinguishers – roughly one for every 200 sq metres of floor space and one on each floor
• Staff should be trained in what to do in the event of a fire
The public are also being asked to report to their local fire station any potential breaches of fire safety laws or obvious fire risks, for example blocked fire escapes or overflowing rubbish.
Steve Turek, the London Fire Brigade’s Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety Regulation, said:
“The events in Brazil this weekend are a tragedy but they should act as a stark reminder to all business owners, and especially nightclub owners, that there is no room for complacency when it comes to fire safety. Businesses must be able to show that they have thought about how they will keep people safe if the worst should happen and they do have a fire.
“The London Fire Brigade regularly inspects the fire safety of nightclubs and thousands of other businesses. If people are breaking fire safety laws, we will have no hesitation in prosecuting them, which could result in a fine totalling tens of thousands of pounds or in the worst cases a prison sentence. Similarly, if people see things they think is a fire risk, tell the business’ owner and if they don’t do anything, tell the local fire station.”