As lockdown eases, BAFE remind everyone that fire safety measures should be reassessed

Friday 19th March 2021
Roadmap to ease COVID-19 lockdown restrictions should prompt reviews on building fire safety.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson in February outlined the Government roadmap “to cautiously ease lockdown restrictions”. Step two of this roadmap, to occur no earlier than 12th April, notes the return of mass non-essential businesses opening for customers.

Prime Minister sets out roadmap to cautiously ease lockdown restrictions (external link)

BAFE must stress once again that fire safety obligations continue as normal. What is important about this roadmap is that buildings opening soon continue to remain safe from both COVID and all other health and safety measures, including fire, in the interest of life safety and property protection. This is especially important after a period of inactivity or reduced staff within these premises. For example, have you:

  • Had your appointed Responsible Persons or Duty Holders on furlough? Who has taken over their fire safety responsibilities during this time? These people need to be approached to check all suitable measures continue to be carried out, especially prior to reopening.
  • Reviewed your fire risk assessment in the lead up to re-opening? E.g. to acknowledge any updated changes to layout for COVID-19 safety?
  • Performed appropriate checks (and logged these) during lockdown? E.g. fire detection and fire alarm system tests/visual checks on fire extinguishers/checking functional operation of emergency lighting systems.
  • Organised any routine maintenance required for systems/provisions in place? Fire safety service providers continue to operate as safe as possible following appropriate COVID-19 guidance to help meet your obligations.

There have been no temporary amendments to fire safety law nationwide to accommodate for the COVID-19 pandemic. Fire and Rescue Services across the UK have stressed “fire safety legislation is still being enforced” with “measures in place to enforce this”. BAFE have stressed Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service Station Manager Bill Shepherd’s caution multiple times but continue to push out the message: “Coronavirus is not an excuse for disregarding your [fire safety] responsibilities and businesses must ensure that they have an adequate amount of competent people to help in the implementation of both preventative and protective fire safety measures.”

Don’t Just Specify, Verify Third Party Certification

Specifying a competent, Third Party Certificated fire safety service provider is a responsible action to help meet your fire safety obligations. Before awarding any contract however, it is just as important to verify their Third Party Certification is appropriate for the work you require. This verification is extremely important, as BAFE Registration or any Third Party Certification does not determine evidence of competency for all fire safety services. End users (e.g. premises management) must be vigilant to ensure they exercise due diligence.

Find or verify Third Party Certificated, BAFE Registered fire safety service providers using the BAFE Fire Safety Register