One of Europe’s leading steel glazing companies is warning that budget cuts for fire safety audits in UK public buildings should be reversed.
Wrightstyle, based in Devizes and which supplies internationally, was responding to official figures that found that the highest number of unsatisfactory fire safety audits against particular premises were care homes (28%), followed by hotels (21%) and hospitals (17%) – buildings that, housing the elderly or infirm, should have the highest levels of protection.
Inspections are carried out under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and form part of each fire authority’s Integrated Risk Management Plan (IRMP), aimed at non-domestic properties. Fire and rescue authorities carried out 82,000 such audits in 2011-12, involving 390,000 personnel hours.
Wrightstyle, however, is concerned that this audit figure for personnel hours is 5% lower than in 2010-11 and, while Fire Safety Order (FCO) compliance levels are rising, which the company welcomes, the relatively high proportion of non-compliant buildings that house vulnerable people should be a particular priority.
“We are a company at the forefront of fire safety both here and internationally and, while we recognise that budgets are being squeezed, public safety is paramount – and the best protection is prevention. Fire safety audits are an important preventative measure and we’d encourage fire authorities to raise the level of inspections in the current year,” said Lee Coates, Wrightstyle’s technical director.