Specialist Fire Safety Staff Numbers ‘On The Decline’

Specialist Fire Safety Staff Numbers ‘On The Decline’

An investigation by the Guardian newspaper has revealed that the numbers of specialist fire safety staff members in fire services across England are dropping. A Freedom of Information request found that the numbers of these workers in 26 fire services around the country have fallen from 924 to 680 between 2011 and 2017.

These fire safety officers conduct inspections of high-risk buildings to make sure they adhere to strict health and safety regulations, and also take action against any landlords if the buildings in question are found to be unsafe.

The worst affected fire services in England were found to be in Gloucestershire, Avon, Cumbria, County Durham and Darlington, where staffing has been slashed by more than half.

This drop in numbers across fire services has also had a knock-on effect of a decrease in the number of inspections and enforcement notices, which are handed out if a building is found to violate safety regulations. Between 2010 and 2011, 84,575 audits were carried out in England, compared to the 63,201 between 2015 and 2016.

National fire safety adviser at the Fire Brigades Union David Sibert explained to the news source that the government’s approach at the moment is “soft touch” and “business-friendly”, which the union believes is the wrong way to go about it. “We should be enforcing safety legislation on behalf of the people who live and work in these buildings, not on behalf of those who are making money out of them,” he went on to say.

Mr Sibert continued to note that the recent Grenfell disaster is indicative of the fact that England’s building and fire safety regulation “is broken” – and in order to fix it, more money is required, as well as more officers and inspections in order to catch those landlords who are trying to circumvent the rules.

Given these stats, it might be worth your company’s time and money to send someone on a RoSPA fire safety and evacuation course so you can be assured of your workforce’s safety while they’re in the building.

This might seem even more important given that the government has also just come out and said that 228 buildings are at risk of an incident similar to what happened at Grenfell, following fire safety tests looking into cladding systems on high-rises.

Where Grenfell is concerned, it’s thought that a combination of flammable aluminium composite material cladding and combustible insulation helped accelerate the spread of the fire on June 14th, which killed at least 80 people. Since then, different measures have been implemented in the hundreds of buildings that are thought to be at risk after the safety tests were carried out. Those high-rises affected include those owned by private landlords, housing associations and local councils.

A review of current building regulations and fire safety was also announced by the government last month (August).

If you want to take your CIEH health and safety level 1 course, get in touch with us at Learning Plus today.