Strategic goal 2: We will improve fire safety in the buildings people live and work in
During our public consultation, 92% of respondents agreed that this should be one of our strategic focus areas
This goal relates to our protection work. It is focused on keeping people safe in buildings that are protected by the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. This includes business premises, hospitals and care homes, high-rise buildings and apartment blocks. We work with businesses to ensure their safety, minimise the impact of incidents if they occur and promote the city and county as a safe place to live, work and visit.
Business education and engagement
We provide businesses with guidance and support to start up, operate and grow safely while complying with fire safety legislation. This support includes advice on business continuity so that businesses can be up and running again quickly in the event of a fire. We are part of local business engagement networks and offer information through our website, social media and regular seminars.
A large number of the incidents we respond to each year turn out to be false alarms. We are also frequently called to release people from lifts. Over recent years, our proactive interventions have significantly reduced both types of incidents. We work with the people responsible for the buildings to identify the causes of the problems and reduce the frequency of those incidents.
We provide additional support, safety advice and reassurance to businesses that have been affected by a fire in their neighbourhood, to reduce the likelihood of similar incidents in the future.
Fire safety inspections
We have a statutory duty to enforce the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. We do this through a programme of inspections using a risk-based approach. We classify all premises according to:
- Risk to life
- Commercial impact to the local community
- Impact on the environment
This means we target our resources at premises we determine to be at the greatest risk in the event of a fire – for example hotels, high-rise buildings and care homes.
The highest risk buildings are inspected most frequently. We liaise with the individuals who are legally responsible for the buildings to address any areas of concern and ensure compliance with fire safety regulations. Where necessary, we use our enforcement and regulatory powers to restrict or prohibit the use of buildings in the interest of public safety. We prosecute those who fail to take the necessary actions to make buildings safe.
We also carry out business safety checks on premises with a lower overall risk classification that have specific characteristics which are known hazards. For example, shops with sleeping accommodation above them. Where these checks raise causes for concern, we undertake a full fire safety audit.
We also audit premises in the aftermath of a fire – providing advice to the business owners about how to prevent any future incidents and to ensure the building is safe.
We maintain excellent relationships with other enforcement agencies and continually share information which can lead to joint enforcement practices and better community outcomes.
If you have a concern about fire safety in a regulated building, you can report it to us for investigation. You can do this via our website or contact us by phone.
We are consulted on licensing applications to ensure premises meet fire safety standards.
We are part of the consultation process for all planning applications and work with property developers and building control officers to ensure that all new developments are compliant with fire safety legislation. We advocate the installation of fire suppression systems such as sprinkler systems, which can limit the risk to life and the damage to property in the event of a fire. We have worked collaboratively with Nottingham City Homes on this issue and, as a result, sprinkler systems are now being retrofitted into all Nottingham City Homes high-rise buildings.
We work with other fire and rescue services and sector bodies, such as the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC), to share learning and best practice, and to campaign for improvements to fire safety.
We will continue to:
- Promote fire safety through media campaigns, engagement with local business networks and direct contact through referrals
- Proactively engage with those responsible for premises which cause us to respond to false alarms on multiple occasions. We aim to reduce these calls by 10% by 2025
Fire safety inspections
We will continue to:
- Audit premises for compliance with the legislation, through our Risk-based Inspection Programme. This determines the level and frequency of audit that each building should have depending on the level of risk it presents
- Provide professional advice and guidance on planning applications on fire related matters
- Take enforcement action to limit or prohibit the use of buildings which do not comply with fire safety regulations
- Inspect fire hydrants across Nottinghamshire on a rolling five-year programme
- Adapt to the requirements of new legislation, by providing training, ensuring adequate resourcing and establishing effective processes
- Implement the new high-rise residential building audits for all residential buildings over 11 metres
- Embed and maintain the business safety check programme which ensures basic audits are undertaken on premises considered to be of lower risk
- Increase the number of fire safety inspections and business safety checks we carry out in our communities. We will aim to deliver 2,000 fire safety inspections and 1,500 business safety checks per year by 2025
Our Protection team and officers from Nottingham City Council, which includes Environmental Health and enforcement officers, have come together to form a Joint Audit and Inspection Team (JAIT).
The JAIT was set up after the Grenfell Tower tragedy and an independent review of building regulations and fire safety was commissioned by the Government.
The role of the team is to audit and inspect residential buildings in the City of Nottingham to ensure the safety of residents.
In the first year the JAIT identified that over 80% of the buildings inspected needed remedial action to improve the safety of the residents.
Collaboration and integration
We will continue:
- Working with planning and building control teams to encourage developers to include appropriate fire safety measures such as suppression systems in their plans
- Collaborating with the city council on a Joint Audit and Inspection Team, providing an effective, joined-up approach to inspecting high-risk residential premises identified following the Grenfell Tower fire