Recently the government conducted an enforcement review of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 for small to medium sized businesses.

The Review identified a need for more consistent application of regulation and better guidance for companies regarding how to comply with the law.

Although the Review found some evidence of good enforcement practice, and while it praised the advice and support offered through dedicated business-outreach teams by Fire and Rescue Authorities (FRAs), it also highlighted negative experiences of enforcement under the RRO, such as:

  • inconsistency of approach and advice, with considerable variation in the approach to regulatory functions, and also examples of conflicting requirements between different areas and different officers;
  • vague enforcement notices that leave businesses unsure what remedial action is required of them;
  • confusing guidance, with multiple versions of common templates, a variety of guidance documents, and confusion between informal advice and legal requirements;
  • no obvious route for appeals to be made;
  • no simple mechanism for raising queries; and
  • too many additional costly safety measures being required after each FRA visit with no real evidence of a change in risk.

As a result the Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA) have responded and welcomed the review, saying it is committed to working closely with businesses and with FRAs to address the findings and improve the way in which fire safety regulations are enforced. This will include taking the lead on business engagement.

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