Author: fire-admin

Fire Service Treatment of Suspects Must Improve

I appreciate that investigating fire officers are not police officers, and that the investigation of potential criminal offences is not the reason why people join the fire service. Nevertheless, once a role in a fire safety or fire protection Department is accepted, the enforcement of the Fire Safety Order, and the investigation of potential criminal offences is likely to be part of the job at some stage. I have trained fire officers for over 10 years in the investigation of criminal offences, and part of that training often involves the PACE interview process. One of the biggest training issues that arises, is that investigating fire officers are usually “too nice” during mock interviews. They have a tendency to believe everything that the suspect tells them, or at least they do not wish to challenge the suspect as vigorously as is sometimes needed. There is also a fear of falling foul of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act requirements when going through the interview process. I always tell fire officers that if they can cover 5 main areas, then they won’t go far wrong. First of all, they must master the caution and be able to explain its significance. Then (Secondly) they must notify the suspect that they are not under arrest, and (thirdly) can leave at any time. The suspect must also be told that he can (fourthly), consult...

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Pub Company Fined for Breaching fire Regulations After Fire

A company which operates The Wizard pub in Nether Alderley has been prosecuted for failing to put in place adequate fire safety measures. The case against the Bispham Green Brewery Company Ltd began shortly after midnight on Wednesday 16 August 2016, when a member of staff reported a fire at the Macclesfield Road pub. Fire crews quickly attended the scene and on arrival they discovered a fire in the kitchen area. Thankfully, the member of staff who reported the incident had managed to exit the building, but they had difficulty in doing so, having to return to the first floor on two occasions to retrieve the keys to locked fire exits. Warren Spencer, Prosecuting, told the Court that fire crews that attended the incident and extinguished the fire noted a number of fire safety issues at the pub and a prohibition notice was issued by fire safety enforcement officers to prevent anyone from living or sleeping at the premises until health and safety controls had been put in place. A post fire inspection carried out by Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service (CFRS) at the premises established the severity of the shortfalls, including locked fire escapes, inadequate fire separation between floors and the absence of a fire alarm system within the staff living quarters. Bisphan Green Brewery Company Ltd admitted failing to comply with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order...

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Number One Influencer?

Warren Spencer has surprisingly been named in the IFSEC Global “Top Influencers in Fire and Security” list for 2018, being ranked number one in the Fire industry professionals or thought leaders category. Warren is one of the country’s leading fire safety lawyers having prosecuted and defended fire safety cases for over 12 years, working for a number of Fire and Rescue Services in England and Wales. His website www.firesafetylaw.co.uk has become the go-to portal for news, expert opinion and training relating to the Fire Safety Order. “I’m surprised and delighted to have been ranked so highly by IFSEC and named alongside so many well respected people within the fire safety industry. The law around fire safety is particularly niche, but has received far more media coverage in the last twelve months as businesses and housing providers realise what their exposure could be under the Fire Safety Order” said Warren. Warren has become a regular speaker at industry events and training courses around the country, providing both legal insight and practical advice. “I’m planning to develop the website further, particularly on the training side as there’s an increased demand within both the public and private sector for training on where responsibility lies for fire safety and what organisations need to do ensure they are complying with relevant legislation.” The top ten list and details of Warren’s nomination can be found...

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Significant Sentence under The Fire Safety Order

The sentencing of the owner of a prestige wedding venue to 20 months imprisonment, one of the longest sentences imposed under the Fire Safety Order, was significant in many respects. It was a case which covered many aspects of culpability under the Fire Safety Order and represented a successful six-year long enforcement regime for Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service. The offences The offences were committed between May 2012 and October 2014. They related to two aspects of fire safety at Haslington Hall, a grade 1 listed 16th century country house, and a ‘prestigious’ Cheshire wedding venue. The first set of charges, committed in May 2012, related to unsuitable living accommodation for an employee found on the 2nd floor of the main hall. The second set of charges arose from a “big marquee”, erected at the hall during the summer of 2014. The ‘Attic Bedroom’ In May 2012 fire officers from Cheshire FRS attended at the premises. The manager at the premises could not provide any evidence of staff training in the event of fire nor was there any evidence of evacuation drills. The inspection showed that all records of fire alarm and emergency lighting testing ceased in October 2011. There were no records of any fire extinguishers having been tested frequently or recently. In the attic of the premises a makeshift bedroom had been constructed but there were a...

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Fire Risk Assessors – Time to Come Together as One?

Dame Judith Hackitt’s final report has now been published. The main recommendations relate predominantly to buildings 10 stories and higher. But what about   the “direction of travel” outlined in the interim report, the issues of competency and accreditation for fire risk assessors which were anticipated after the Interim Report was published? Will this proposal see the light of day? Or should the industry itself lead the way forward? The findings outlined in paragraphs 1.20 and 1.23 of the interim report, (which point out that there are no statutory registration or accreditation requirements for fire risk assessors-an area in which, nationally, we are lagging behind many parts of the world) clearly confirm Dame Judith’s concerns. And at paragraph 1.73 there is a clear call to action to “the professional and accreditation bodies (who) have an opportunity to demonstrate that they are capable of establishing a robust, comprehensive and coherent system covering all disciplines for work on such (complex) buildings. If they are able to come together and develop a joined up system covering all levels of qualification in relevant disciplines, this will provide the framework for Regulation to mandate the use of suitable, qualified professionals who can demonstrate that their skills are up-to-date.” In relation to risk assessors, the issue of competency has long been an issue for discussion. In one criminal case, where a fire risk assessor was prosecuted...

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Warren Spencer

Warren Spencer

Warren Spencer is one of the country’s leading fire safety lawyers. He has now prosecuted and defended fire safety cases for over 12 years and has also conducted numerous Enforcement and Prohibition Notice Appeals brought under the Fire Safety Order. He is able to offer impartial professional expert legal advice in all aspects of fire safety enforcement.

Warren is a Higher Courts Advocate, an accreditation which enables him to work as an advocate in the Crown Court. Warren has conducted prosecutions for Lancashire, Greater Manchester, Humberside, Cumbria, Cheshire, Merseyside, Hereford & Worcester, Shropshire and Wrekin Fire & Rescue Services, as well as advising businesses and professionals on various aspects of Fire Safety Law including its effect upon PFI contracts.

Warren is a part-time Tribunal Judge and in 2015 he was appointed as a 'Legally Qualified Chair' for Police Disciplinary proceedings in the North West. He is also a former Assistant Deputy Coroner for Blackpool and Fylde.

Tel: 01253 629300

Email: info@firesafetylaw.co.uk

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