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Home>Fire>Enforcement>“Fire safety measures should be reassessed as lockdown eases” asserts BAFE

“Fire safety measures should be reassessed as lockdown eases” asserts BAFE

25 April 2021

IN FEBRUARY, Prime Minister Boris Johnson outlined the Government’s roadmap “to cautiously ease lockdown restrictions”. Step Two of this roadmap, which is to occur no earlier than 12 April, sees the return of mass non-essential businesses opening for customers. BAFE asserts that this should prompt reviews on fire safety within buildings.

Once again, BAFE has stressed that fire safety obligations continue as normal. “What’s important about this roadmap is that buildings opening soon continue to remain safe from both COVID and all other Health and Safety measures, including fire,” observed BAFE’s CEO Stephen Adams. “This i in the interest of life safety and property protection and is especially important after a period of inactivity or reduced staff within these premises.”

BAFE has also posed several key questions for consideration:

*Has your appointed ‘Responsible Person’ or duty holder been on furlough? Who has taken over their fire safety responsibilities during the interveining period? “These individuals need to be approached to check that all suitable safety measures continue to be carried out, especially prior to reopening,” explained Adams.

*Have you reviewed your fire risk assessment in the lead-up to re-opening? For example, in order to acknowledge any updated changes to the building layout for COVID-19 safety?

*Have you performed appropriate fire safety-related checks (and logged them) during lockdown? For instance, conducting fire detection and fire alarm system tests, performing visual checks on fire extinguishers and checking on the functional operation of emergency lighting systems?

*Have you organised any routine maintenance that’s required for the fire safety systems/provisions in place? Fire safety service providers are continuing to operate as safely as possible by following appropriate COVID-19 guidance in order to help businesses in meeting their obligations.

Legislation enforced

There have been no temporary amendments to fire safety law nationwide in order to accommodate the COVID-19 pandemic. Fire and Rescue Services right across the UK have stressed that “fire safety legislation is still being enforced” with “measures in place to enforce this”.

BAFE has pointed out Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service station manager Bill Shepherd’s remarks many times, and feels that it’s still worth continuing to push out the message. Shepherd has observed: “Coronavirus is not an excuse for disregarding your [fire safety] responsibilities. Businesses must ensure that they have an adequate amount of competent people to help in the implementation of both preventative and protective fire safety measures.”

Specifying a competent third party certificated fire safety service provider is a responsible action for businesses to take in meeting their fire safety obligations. Before awarding any contract, it’s just as important to verify that the third party certification is appropriate for the work required on site.

This verification is extremely important. BAFE registration or any third party certification doesn’t determine evidence of competency for all fire safety services. End users (for example those individuals responsible for premises management) must be vigilant to ensure that they exercise due diligence.