Fire safety enforcement, appeals and penalties

Fire risk assessments should be carried out at regular intervals so that you can identify and remedy any fire hazards, and ensure your premises are compliant with fire safety legislation.

Assessing premises for fire safety

In order to ensure businesses and commercial sites are taking the right precautions and preventative measures, local fire and rescue services are able to visit and check up on your fire risk assessment, as well as the measures you have in place.

These visits can result in a number of outcomes, with many getting simple advice for suggested improvements to fire safety measures. However, there are consequences if the fire and rescue service do not deem the systems you have in place to be robust, or up to fire regulation standard.

What if your business isn’t compliant?

Most of the time, the advice will come in the form of an informal notice, but formal notices can be issued too, detailing how to fix any issues they identify. The following are a few examples of the type of notice you could receive:

Alteration – This notice could be issued where there are high safety risks, or where the risks will increase should the use of the premises be due to undergo changes.

Enforcement – Where a serious risk is identified by your local fire and rescue authority, they may issue you with an enforcement notice. This will detail what improvements need to be made, with a definitive deadline date for them to be completed by.

Prohibition – If the risk of fire is great enough, without proper safety measures in place, the fire and rescue authority can issue a prohibition notice, which can mean your site having restricted access or prohibition of access altogether until the serious issues are addressed.

Appealing your notice

If you were to disagree with any of the notices issued to you, there is an appeals process. According to the government’s website, you can appeal to your local magistrate with the decision to issue a fire safety notice. Your appeal must be lodged within 21 days of receiving the notice.

What happens if you don’t follow the notice?

For notices which demand certain actions be taken – whether that is for immediate adjustments or for the restriction of access to your building – it is worth doing so. There are penalties for those who do not follow fire safety regulations, with minor penalties being fines of up to £5,000 and more serious penalties leading to unlimited fines and maximum of two years in prison.

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