The Operational Statistics Bulletin for the Fire and Rescue Services in England for 2013-14 has been  published by the Department for Communities and Local Government.

The bulletin focuses on Personnel, Health and Safety, Fire Safety and Prevention activities.  The main findings include:

  • Fire and Rescue Authorities (FRAs) carried out 67,266 audits in 2013-14, spending 309,221 personnel hours.
  • Audits identifying an unsatisfactory level of compliance led to 18,733 informal notifications, 2,059 enforcement notices, 392 prohibition notices, 44 alteration notices and 71 prosecutions under article 32 (failure to comply with the Order).
  • FRAs are focusing their audit activities so that premises which are considered to represent the highest risks (as identified by the Fire Service Emergency Cover toolkit) are more likely to be audited. The highest proportions were care homes (27% were audited during 2013-14), followed by hostels (22%) and hospitals and hotels (both 15%).
  • The articles of the Fire Safety Order where premises were mostly non-compliant were: article 9 (Risk assessment), 14 (Emergency routes and exits) and 17 (Maintenance).

FIA Chief Executive Officer Graham Ellicott commented:

“Over the last two years, the number of personnel employed by the Fire and Rescue Services in England has fallen by approximately 7% and the knock on of this has, in part, been a 14% drop in the number of fire safety audits, with the largest drop coming in Non-Sleeping Risk Premises.  In contrast, fire safety audits for Sleeping Risk Premises have fallen by 5%. Overall, 64% of fire safety audits were satisfactory in 2013/2014, with the highest satisfactory percentage (77%) being for Purpose Built Flats, whereas the lowest satisfactory percentage (47%) was in Houses of Multiple Occupation.”

Commercial buildings, non-domestic and multi-occupancy premises in England and Wales are already forced to undertake a ‘suitable and sufficient’ fire risk assessment carried out under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.  While the overwhelming majority of premises do this, if the assessment is thought to have been carried out to an insufficient extent, the Responsible Person can face an unlimited fine or up to two years in prison.