News and editorial

The government has passed new regulations making it compulsory for landlords to fit smoke alarms in rented homes.

The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide (England) Regulations 2015, will come into force on 1st October.  The laws require private landlords to have a working smoke alarm on each floor of their property and a carbon monoxide detector in properties that burn solid fuel.

Chief Fire Officers Association home safety committee chair Mark Cashin said ‘I am delighted that the government recognised the strength of the case we put forward and the major improvements in public safety this simple step will bring about.

‘While death and injuries from fires have reduced considerably in recent years, the majority of victims continue to be those who are most vulnerable, often living in private rented accommodation.

‘This change will improve the safety of families and stop dozens of people from losing their lives to fire each year. The cost to landlords is small, with a ten year sealed alarm costing around £15.’



Video footage has emerged of a fire rescue in Paris. Fire fighters saved eight people trapped in the upper floors of a six storey building. In the UK, use of hook ladders like those seen here has long been discontinued, so footage of this kind is rare.




Provisional Welsh government statistics for 2014/15 indicate a steady 15-year decrease in incidents attended by Welsh fire services.

The most recent fire and rescue statistics, extracted from the Incident Recording System in June and presented in July by the Welsh government to the Department for Communities and Local Government, provide in-depth analysis of fire incidents attended by Welsh fire and rescue services (FRSs). This includes details on location, cause, motive, casualties and false alarms, and shows time series from 2001/02 where possible.

 Incidents attended in 2001/2 totalled almost 55,000, while the most recent data indicates a fall to just over 27,000, continuing the 15-year trend of declining statistics.

Other indications in the statistics for the 2014/15 period include that in Wales call-outs decreased by 5% compared with the previous one, as well as:

  • an increase of 1% in false fire alarms from 15,312 in 2013/14 to 15,482 in 2014/15 
  • malicious false fire alarms fell from 646 to 605
  • 30% of dwellings do not have a smoke alarm
  • the largest single cause of accidental fires was misuse of equipment or appliances (36%) 

View the bulletin here




North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (NYFRS) has opened a consultation period on proposals to reduce the number of full-time staff.

The plans would see £1.5m per annum saved and would affect six of the county’s 39 fire stations: Harrogate, Malton, Northallerton, Ripon, Scarborough and Tadcaster. The proposals include replacing fire appliances with smaller vehicles crewed by fewer staff or replacing day-crewed engines with a mix of full and part-time or retained firefighters.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) is warning that the cuts could lead to as many as 42 firefighters losing their jobs. Chair of the North Yorkshire branch of the FBU Simon Wall said: ‘We appreciate the need for a review and change, but this must not be at the expense of firefighters or public safety.

‘We also appreciate that call volumes have reduced, but some of that reduction is down to the preventative work we undertake. There are also plans to increase the contribution the fire service receives from council tax to the maximum that it can, without triggering a referendum.’

NYFRS would not be drawn on how many staff might be axed under the proposals, but encouraged local residents to take part in the consultation. Area manager Owen Hayward told the Harrogate Informer: ‘We would really like to hear from local residents, business groups and our staff to gather their views on these proposals. Even if you do not live or work in an area that is specifically affected by the proposed changes we would like to hear from you.’

 The consultation closes at 6pm on 16 October 2015. For more information, visit


The London Fire Brigade (LFB) successfully prosecuted former Wood Green pub manager Samir Wassef and leaseholder Sami Farag who pleaded guilty to eight offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. They were each handed custodial sentences of 24 weeks’ immediate imprisonment at Wood Green Crown Court.

Haringey Council alerted fire safety officers from LFB had concerns about fire safety at The Prince of Wales public house in Finsbury Road and they suspected that it was being used as an unlicensed House in Multiple Occupation (HMO).

A joint LFB/council inspection raised a number of fire dangers, including inadequate fire detection and inadequate fire separation between the staircase and kitchen; compromised escape routes; defective fire doors; lack of a fire risk assessment, no emergency fire plan in place and no training records; and disabled smoke alarms in the building's corridor, kitchen and a number of bedrooms. The inspection also revealed a motorbike containing petrol in one of the bedrooms

A Prohibition Notice was issued to Mr Farag preventing the upper floors of the building from being used for residential accommodation until these concerns had been addressed. An enforcement notice was then issued requiring the work to be completed.

Further visits by the inspectors found that, despite some improvements, the upper floors were still being used as sleeping accommodation and the terms of the Prohibition Notice had not been fully met. Fire doors remained hooked open, door closers remained unfitted and there was no fire door separating the kitchen and bar. In addition, there was still no emergency plan or fire safety training for staff. A fire risk assessment was provided, but this was found to be wholly inadequate.

For carrying out an inadequate fire risk assessment, a third defendant Dean Venkatasamy received a 12-week prison sentence, suspended for one year.

Speaking after the court case, LFB’s assistant commissioner for fire safety Neil Orbell said: ‘This premises was a potential death trap and the fact that the judge sentenced both Mr Farag and Mr Wassef to six months in prison should serve as a stark warning to other landlords who choose to ignore their fire safety responsibilities.’


The role of the fire risk asssessor has had more coverage over the past year than ever before.  The introduction of third party accrediation, such as the FRACS-UKAS scheme and the BAFE SP205 shecme, along with professional registers maintained by the IFE and IFSM have had great coverage, and provided some assitance on choosing a fire risk assessor.  Has this helped the unititiated in choosing a propelry qualified risk assessor?  Unfortunately the answer is 'not really'.

The problem lies in two areas, the numebr and choice of schemes available and the reluctance of the operators of those schemes to police the use of their names and logos.

The IFE, FRACS and BAFE  all offer legitimate accreditation schemes, under which indiviuals, or companies (both in the case of FRACS) are properly assessed and accredited.  Other organisations, such as the Insititution of Fire Safety Managers offer searchable registers some of which are subject to third party assessment, some of which are not.

The value of these schemes depends upon usability and results.  When you next have a moment, try searcing on 'fire risk assessors'  or 'accredited fire risk assessors'.  Depending upon the search engine and actual words used, you may end up with a lot of companies offering fire risk assessment training or you might be offered links to the IFE or IFSM registers.  You will also be offered a list of advertised or sponsored websites offering fire risk assessment services.  A look at these may uncover unscrupulous manipulation of the English language, or just plain misinformation.  For example, a number of sites have articles describing the activites of the IFE, including that organisation's links to the Engineering Council.  However, such companies are almost never affiliated to the IFE, nor does that article mean that their risk assessors are qualified or accredited.  Equally misleading is the practice by larger extinguisher companies of offering Fire Risk Assessments by accredited staff, accompanied by the BAFE accreditation logo.  In many cases, the scheme number linked to that logo refers to accreditation for the filling and recharging of fire extingjuishers, the staff may not have any knowledge of fire safety or fire risk assessment at all.

Other liberties are taken with the word 'Approved'.  Websites often state such things as 'fire risk assessors approved' by the BRE or FPA.  What this really means is that the indivual has passed the basic fire risk assessor course offered by these organisations; their actual compentence has never been assessed or approved by anybody.  

The trouble with advertising in this way is not just that it is misleading, it can leave you, as the Responsible Person, in a whole heap of difficulty.  An audit by the local fire and rescue authority is likely to find risk assessments carried out by such individuals or companies as not being 'suitable or sufficient'.  This is a potential criminal offence and it is you, as the Responsible Person, who is in the firing line, not the dodgy risk assessor.

The situation is not likely to improve until the various companies start to protect their brand names, logos and statments made in their name.

So until this happens, what can you do to ensure that the person you engage is the right person?

Ensure that the individual is really qualified! Have a look on the IFE register, the FRACS-UKAS certification register or search the IFSM register of Nationally Accredited Fire Risk Assessors.  You can also look up FRACS company registration, or BAFE Scheme SP205.  If you can't find the name of an assessor on one of these registers, then they are not likely to be qualified or competent.

For further information, ring Rapier Consulting.  FRACS- UKAS Certificated, IFE Registered with further company accrediation under the Government Constructionline scheme and Health & Safety Accreditation under the Safe Contractor scheme.