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Fire Safety Warning to Business

27th April 2010

North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (NYFRS) is warning the owners of the County’s business premises, that by not paying attention to their obligations within the fire safety regulations, they may not only be putting lives and livelihoods at risk but could also face heavy fines in the courts.

NYFRS warns that nationally, record fines have been imposed on small businesses, landlords and international companies for breaches of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (RRO).

High profile cases in 2009 included Shell International being fined £300,000 and high street firm New Look paying over £500,000 in fines and costs. New Look's fine was the largest ever imposed under the RRO following a serious fire at their Oxford Street store on 26 April 2007.

Group Manager Trevor Lund of NYFRS comments; “Fines such as these show just how seriously the courts are taking issues of fire safety and they highlight the need for those with day to day control of premises to find out more about their responsibilities, and act on them. To do nothing could be very costly.”

NYFRS carries out around 2000 fire safety ‘audits’ in business premises each year many of which are well managed, but there are still too many buildings that do not have an adequate fire risk assessment and managers who do not appear to recognise the dangers posed by blocked fire exits, inadequately installed and maintained fire alarms or poor training for staff.

"The preferred role of North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service is to educate and encourage the business owners of York and North Yorkshire to improve the standard of fire safety in premises which they control, however where we become aware of businesses where fire safety issues are apparent or find them as part of our audit programme, we will act appropriately....so the advice from NYFRS is; don’t wait until you have had a fire - understand your responsibilities now."

In recent years NYFRS have organised and supported information seminars across North Yorkshire to make businesses aware of their responsibilities with regard to the RRO. There is a proposal to provide similar information seminars in 2010; if any members of the local business community wish to register an early interest in taking part, they can do so by contacting the Fire Safety Advice line on 01609 788545. 

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