In September 2014, a fire broke out at a care home in Wearside. When the case was investigated, five separate fire breaches were discovered. The operators of the care home were fined in Newcastle Crown Court on Tuesday 22nd March 2016, to a total of almost £400,000.

Among the fire breaches which were found, it was noted that fire doors had been wedged open, leading to the much faster spread of heat and smoke. It was also found that over half of the fire extinguishers on the premises had been condemned and were not up to standard. Although having had a fire risk assessment carried out, the company had failed to complete a number of actions identified in the report.

The fire safety breaches at this care home put the lives of residents and staff at risk.

This fine is one of the more significant of its kind, but should be taken as a warning to others about the importance of keeping up to date with fire safety regulations.

Unsure if your company requires a fire risk assessment?
All businesses who have 5 or more employees, including part time staff, are required to have an assessment carried out. Also premises visited by the public, landlords with control over business premises, landlords of HMO properties and self-employed business premises.

What does a fire risk assessment entail?
A fire risk assessment covers the entire business premises to evaluate the condition and age of the building, the layout and escape routes and the contents of the building, including any potential fire hazards.
It will also take into account who works where in the building, current fire safety signs, existing fire prevention and safety equipment including its condition and maintenance.
A report is then presented, detailing any areas that are not compliant with legislation and require urgent attention, along with recommendations for improvements.

Who needs to carry out a fire risk assessment?
Although the law only states it must be a “competent person”, this may only be realistic for small, simple business premises. Once buildings run over a number of floors and have more specific fire safety requirements, it is advised to have your assessment carried out by a qualified surveyor. It is advised that people should recognise their own limitations when deciding whether or not to undertake a fire risk assessment. Our risk assessors are FPA trained and undergo continued training to ensure they are up to date with the latest legislation.

The responsibility of fire risk assessments ultimately falls to the designated “responsible person”, however, any repercussions of failure to meet fire safety regulations could also involve owners and operators of the business. The “responsible person” should make a point of ensuring their fire risk assessment is up to date and reviewed regularly. A new assessment should be carried out if there have been any material changes to the building, if there have been any significant changes to the use or layout of the building or if there have been significant changes in fire risk precautions.

For more information about fire risk assessments or to get a quote for your business, contact us through our website, or call us at the office on 01535 66 11 97.