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...Read More
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...Read More
A reminder to all risk assessors about the Fire Risk Assessors Seminar at Preston UCLAN next week. I will be giving two presentations around Fire Risk assessor prosecutions and investigations and the Competence Register which may be required following the Grenfell final Report. The seminar will explore questions such as: Is Grenfell a way of reintroducing prescriptive regulation that appears contrary to the Fire Safety Order? How do you defend yourself against the resources of a Fire & Rescue Authority? The day will feature a panel including myself, Nick Coombes from London Fire Brigade and vice-chair of the IFE Risk Assessment Register, Paul Macdonald from Hertfordshire Fire & Rescue Service and Dr Bob Docherty from Flamerisk Safety Solutions. A MUST NOT MISS for all fire risk assessors! Book your place...Read More
I have regularly been asked about the enforcement of the FSO (FSO) in specialised housing since I began dealing with fire safety cases in 2006. For the most part, very little has changed over the past 12 years and my answers to such questions have always related to specific sets of premises and situations, as generic answers are almost impossible to give in this particular area. There are numerous reasons for this. The main reason is that the FSO does not apply to domestic premises. As nearly all specialised housing involves a degree of private living accommodation, the extent to which the FSO might apply, will always be a difficult question. Another significant reason is that there may well be numerous responsible persons or ‘persons with control’ with various responsibilities for the premises and/or relevant persons/residents, thus making enforcement a tricky proposition. Throw in the overlapping legislative regimes such as the Housing Act 2004, and the Health and Social Care Act 2008 Regulations; numerous enforcement regimes such as fire services, local authorities and care providers and it is not difficult to see why a consistent, clear and helpful enforcement strategy has yet to be found. Which is why the Fire Safety in Specialised Housing guide produced on behalf of the NFCC (National Fire Chiefs Council) was hopefully anticipated. A clear, concise and practical guide to enforcement was exactly what...Read More
Institution of Fire Engineers, The University of Central Lancashire & Lancashire Fire & Rescue Service Date – 2nd May 2018 Registration opens at 09:30hrs, event starts at 10:00hrs until 16:00 Venue: University of Central Lancashire – Darwin Lecture Theatre Price £65 (including lunch and refreshments) Following a number of successful seminars in 2017 the ‘Risk Assessing The Risk Assessor’ course has been updated and extended for 2018. The seminar is aimed at risk assessors and responsible persons that have a duty under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) order 2005. Risk assessors may unwittingly leave themselves open to criminal prosecution from the reporting procedures used. Warren Spencer has prosecuted risk assessors for Fire & Rescue Authorities and defended risk assessors prosecuted by FRAs under the RR(FS)O. The seminar will examine the scope of the risk assessment and the limits of criminal liability. The current enquiries following the Grenfell Tower fire are examining all aspects of fire safety in the built environment. One aspect of the enquiries is thought to focus on the risk assessor and means to show competence. Several accredited schemes exist but the number of risk assessors receiving training is not reflected by the numbers accredited by recognised bodies. The advantages and routes to accredited status are explored by several of the presentations. This is an opportunity to see the schemes and training and experience needed to qualify. To book your...Read More
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