Awareness of new Fire Safety Bill requirements low

Commercial awareness around potential changes to fire safety regulations is thought to be lacking across the UK, as a poll suggests more than a quarter of professionals responsible for fire safety report a lack of knowledge around the incoming Fire Safety Bill.

The bill, anticipated to come into effect next month, is set to amend the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, and represents the biggest change in building safety for a generation.

JLA’s 2021 Fire Safety Accountability Report surveyed 504 respondents deemed to be the Responsible Person (employer or building owner or person with control over a building) for ensuring fire safety in their workplace or commercial property, to reveal their level of understanding around fire safety requirements, procedures and priorities.

While 73.2% of those surveyed claimed they understood the bill either very or somewhat well, this left only 26.8% of businesses or commercial properties operating with a only a basic knowledge of it. One in ten said they knew nothing at all about the bill.

When it comes to where people turn to for guidance on fire safety regulations and requirements, government or local council is the go-to source with over 45% of those surveyed choosing them – but over 4% admit they don’t seek any advice at all.

Other key findings from the survey included that more than half (53%) of those responsible for ensuring fire safety on behalf of their business or commercial property felt they could be doing more to reduce fire risk.

Training was also found to be lacking across the UK, with more than half of people responsible for fire safety admitting they do not train all staff, while 12% don’t offer fire safety training at all.

This has clear implications on the safety of commercial property managers, workers and patrons across the UK, who need to prioritise fire safety urgently in order to reduce fire risk and adhere to the potential new regulations.

Managing director of JLA Fire, Rob Harris said that is was concerning that a large number of those surveyed were unaware of fire safety procedures, and believe they could be doing more to protect those around them.

“Budget constraints or added stress – or indeed the coronavirus crisis - are not adequate reasons to avoid rectifying this awareness, as the potential damage a fire could cause would have far more costly implications on a business’ reputation and finances.

“By identifying the gaps in people’s knowledge and fire safety procedures, we know the areas that need significant improvement and we urge employers and fire safety employees to conduct widespread training, equipment checks and procedural updates as a priority.”

JLA’s survey was conducted across the UK during January 2021.

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