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Don’t Get Burned By Playing With Fire

Under health and safety law, the employer, owner or occupier is responsible for fire safety within non-domestic premises.  The ‘responsible person’ must conduct a fire safety risk assessment and implement and maintain appropriate and adequate fire safety measures that minimise the risk to lives that fire could pose.  The onus to do this also falls on landlords, freeholders, managing agents and those, such as B&B and guesthouse owners, who welcome paying guests.

But whilst focusing, as the law does, on the risk to lives posed by inadequacies like blocked escape routes, non-functioning fire doors or fire alarms, inadequate fire safety training for employees or tenants and poorly maintained electrical equipment and cabling is absolutely right, there are other compelling reasons to pay attention to fire safety.

A fire can devastate and destroy a business in any sector. A hospitality provider cannot accept guests if a fire has ravaged its building’s fabric and facilities.  As the online retailer, ASOS, discovered in 2014, a warehouse fire can lead to a suspension of online trading until such time as stock can be replaced.  

In the commercial property sector, damage to rented accommodation could lead to a loss of rental income, whilst having no office from which to operate can badly interrupt the operation of any business requiring access to office equipment, IT systems and phones.

Add to this the loss of data and records that accompanies a major fire and most commercial operations would be paralysed.

The road to recovery requires careful orchestration.  It pays to not only have robust fire safety plans and procedures in place that ensure compliance, but to also draw up a solid business continuity plan that can keep a business operational, in the worst case scenario.  Top analysts estimate that seven in ten businesses would fail if they suffered a fire and those who fail to plan are less likely to survive.

Whatever the main motivation – legal compliance, concern for employees, tenants or members of the public, or sound business sense – those with considered, audited and frequently refreshed fire safety procedures and practices in place will always stand a much better chance of business survival than those paying scant regard to their obligations. 

The moral of the tale is to make sure your business or property enterprise is one of them.  Playing with fire will lead to you getting burned.

For assistance with your fire safety procedures and risk assessments, whether you are a single or multi-site operation, contact us on 01133 50 40 30 or email at hello@scesolicitors.co.uk.

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SCE Solicitors is a boutique employment law and dispute resolution practice based in Leeds which advises clients nationwide.  Please note that the information in this blog is to provide information of general interest in a summary manner and should not be construed as individual legal advice. Readers should consult with SCE Solicitors or other professional counsel before acting on the information contained here. 

Samira Cakali

Samira Cakali is a pragmatic and approachable solicitor advocate with extensive contentious and non-contentious experience in the fields of employment law as well as civil litigation, within a range of commercial businesses from SME’s to multinationals as well as senior executives.

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