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UK Fire Safety News

Fire Safety Awareness - Devon & Somerset

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The importance of a safe and secure building is paramount, irrespective of whether it is somebody's flat or the world's biggest skyscraper. Indeed, UK fire law is continually reassessed to ensure owners or managers of these buildings are doing all they can to prevent or reduce the threat of a blaze from breaking out. While these measures are in place, it is then up to those in charge of a building to implement changes, such as a fire risk assessment or fire alarm installation, so that those occupying it are properly protected.

Which is why after a series of hotel fires in the south-west, Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue has decided to do more to make sure more people understand fire regulations in place in the UK. The authority will be hosting several events - aimed at owners of guesthouses and hotels - next month with the aim of doing just that. "We want to give these business owners the information they need to comply with legislation," Bideford station manager Graham Rooke told the North Devon Gazette. "We'll also show them the effects of fire; how devastating it can be and how quickly it can spread. The events are free and so far we have about 200 people booked into them but we would like to spread the word and get as many as possible to attend." Fire safety officers in the area have witnessed several serious conflagrations over the last few years, costing lives and ending businesses.

The news provider reports that Tantons, a hotel in Bideford, was fined £40,000 by Exeter Crown Court because of a breach of fire regulations. Mr Rooke and his team hope to eliminate the chances of this happening again through their roadshows. But it's not just in Devon. Last October, the Hull Daily Mail reported that the Gilson Hotel in Feren was forced to shut after local safety inspectors found it was in breach of laws. It revealed that fire alarms were not working and exits were obstructed, posing a huge threat to those staying and working in the building.

Owners of all commercial properties in England and Wales must carry out a 'suitable and sufficient' fire risk assessment under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. The Responsible Person can face up to two years in prison or an unlimited fine if they fail to comply with the legislation. As part of this, the government has already published a fire risk assessment guide on sleeping accommodation, designed to provide a Responsible Person with further guidance on fire precautions. On the subject of fire alarms, the guide says that control and indicating equipment should be tested every 24 hours, while fire-warning systems should be tested once a week.

Investigation underway into Brighton restaurant fire

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A fire that ripped through an Italian restaurant in Brighton on Saturday (January 19th) night has left its owner "devastated".

Pinnochio, situated in New Road, had to be evacuated after a blaze started in the ground-floor kitchen and is unlikely to open again in the near future. The Argus reports that nobody was injured in the incident after 40 firefighters and fire safety officers attended the scene. While the blaze was put out, extensive damage occurred to the kitchen, the basement and the roof. An investigation into what caused the conflagration is now underway. East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service said that it took more than three hours to put the fire out as ten fire engines attended the scene, adding that it was a "tricky one to deal with".

The owner of the scarred Pinocchio restaurant and Donatello in The Lanes, told the news provider that the aim is now to get the restaurant open again as quickly as possible. "Obviously we are devastated by what has happened but at the end of the day the most important thing is that nobody was hurt or injured," she noted.

Under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, owners of commercial properties in England and Wales, including restaurants and hotels, must carry out a 'suitable and sufficient' fire risk assessment to identify potential hazards and ensure appropriate safety measures. If the assessment is deemed not to be 'suitable and sufficient' the Responsible Person can face up to two years in prison or an unlimited fine.

Inquest Opens into Lakanal House Fire

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Three women and three children, including a three-week-old baby, lost their lives when a blaze broke out on the ninth floor of Lakanal House in Camberwell in July 2009. A faulty television was found to have been responsible for the fire, which spread rapidly through the block trapping the victims on the 11th floor of the building. The inquest will examine why the flames were able to spread so quickly and whether the layout of the block and the refurbishments that had been made to it over the years had any impact. It will also question why firefighters issued the order for residents to remain in their homes and wait for rescuers to arrive rather than evacuating them straight away.

A change in fire safety legislation could result from the inquest, particularly if there are found to be similar problems and inadequacies in other tower blocks. Indeed, there are concerns that too many blocks of flats have not been properly assessed for fire safety and could pose a serious risk to life in the event of a blaze. David Sibert, an adviser to the Fire Brigades Union, told the Independent newspaper: "The quality of too many fire risk assessments remains poor. "Too often they are carried out by people who lack appropriate knowledge. To do it properly it is necessary to get into the hidden parts of a building, behind walls and into ceiling spaces."

The inquest is expected to last until the end of March and will be held at Lambeth Town Hall. It comes after the Crown Prosecution Service decided last year that there would be no charges of manslaughter brought in the case of Lakanal House.An inquest into the deaths of six people who were killed in a fire at a block of flats in London more than three years ago is due to take place today (January 14th).

Crawley Fire - Block of Flats Evacuated

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Eight people, including two children, have been rescued by firefighters during a blaze at a three-storey block of flats in West Sussex.

The fire broke out in the communal stairwell of the building in Broadfield Place, Crawley, just after 07:00 GMT. Residents trapped in their flats by thick smoke were advised by fire controllers to close their doors and use towels or sheets to block any gaps.

Five were rescued from first floor windows and three were led to safety. One man in his 20s was treated at the scene by paramedics for mild effects of smoke inhalation, West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service said. An investigation into the cause of the fire is under way.

Fourteen people die in Workshop for Disabled

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Fourteen people have been killed and eight injured in a major fire at a workshop for disabled people in south-western Germany.

The blaze occurred at the centre run by the Caritas charity in the Black Forest town of Titisee-Neustadt, some 40km (25 miles) east of Freiburg. About 50 people were believed to be in the building when the fire started. The cause is unclear, but local media reports that there may have been an explosion in a store room.

The centre is reportedly used for woodwork and metalwork, but it is not known whether there were any flammable materials on site. The blaze occurred at about 14:00 local time (13:00 GMT), and flames were first spotted on the roof of the modern three-storey building. More than 100 firefighters backed by helicopters tackled the blaze - some, wearing breathing apparatus, braved the thick smoke to rescue a number of people trapped inside. But police confirmed that not every one made it out.

House Boat Fire in Oxfordshire

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The remains of a man were found last week on the boat, moored in Wolvercote, following a fire on board on 16 November.

Police are continuing attempts to formally identify human bones discovered in a burned out houseboat on a canal in Oxfordshire. A post-mortem test on Friday failed to identify the person.