As part of North Wales Fire and Rescue Service’s licenced premises fire safety campaign running this week, a senior fire safety officer is reminding those who own, operate or live in a mixed commercial and residential premises of the importance of basic fire safety considerations.
Lee Williams, Deputy Head of Business Fire Safety for North Wales Fire and Rescue Service, explains:
“Residential accommodation is often situated above or within commercial premises. Any ﬁre in the commercial premises could affect the residential parts, and at night may go unnoticed until well developed.
“Without adequate fire separation between the two uses, a fire in the shop could result in the loss of a home- and without adequate fire warning arrangements and a safe escape route, a fire in the business could also result in the loss of lives. Occupants must be alerted to a fire and must be able to safely escape from the building.”
Fire Safety Inspectors often encounter dangerous conditions in business premises that could affect areas where people live and sleep, including:
- Access to the sleeping accommodation through the shop
- Storage in escape routes/ escape routes blocked with bins and other waste materials
- Excessive accumulation of combustible items (e.g. cardboard boxes and food cartons)
- Non-existent or inadequate fire detection and warning arrangements
- Locked or difficult to open exits
- Holes in walls, floors and ceilings that can allow smoke and fire spread
- Poor or non-existent cleaning and maintenance of kitchen extraction ducting
- Non-existent or unsuitable fire-fighting equipment
- Non-existent or inadequate inspections and maintenance of electrical installations
Lee added: “If you are responsible for such a premises you are breaking the law if lives are being put at risk. We may inspect your premises as part of our responsibility to enforce the law.
“We can take formal legal enforcement action if you fail to make the necessary improvements to keep people safe. If we find a serious fire risk we can prohibit the use of part or all of the premises; your business may be unable to operate as a result and people living on the premises may have to find somewhere else to stay. You could also face a large fine or imprisonment for breaches of fire safety law.”
North Wales Fire and Rescue Service currently have 23 Prohibition Notices in effect across the region, of which 16 relate to mixed commercial and residential premises, or commercial premises being used as sleeping accommodation.
Since January 2018 North Wales Fire and Rescue Service have attended 54* fires in mixed commercial and residential premises.
If you would like to speak to one of our specialist Business Fire Safety Officers for FREE advice, or if you have any concerns about the safety of people living at such premises, contact your local Fire Safety Office:
Gwynedd/ Môn: 01286 662999 Gwynedd.Mon@nwales-fireservice.org.uk
Flintshire/ Wrexham: 01978 367870 Flintshire.firstname.lastname@example.org
Denbighshire/ Conwy: 01745 352777 Conwy.email@example.com
*As of 1/12/2020