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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
In the next couple of months model railway societies and clubs should receive information from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) about a major revision of fire safety rules in England and Wales from the 1st of October 2006 (Scotland and possibly Northern Ireland will introduce similar changes at the same time). This legislation - the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 - covers all aspects of fire safety in buildings and outdoor sites to which the public have access, and replaces existing fragmented regulations with one lot of rules. It will affect all voluntary organisations whose premises or outdoor activities site are open to the public in any way.

In case the ODPM does not get round to your club or society, I thought I'd post something here to draw attention to these changes and their implications.

Firstly if clubs hold 'open days' for the public at their clubhouse or outdoor running site, then the regulations will apply as a 'place of public assembly' or 'outdoor activity'.
Secondly many meetings and exhibitions are held in a church or school or village hall or similar buillding. Such buildings will be subject to the new regulations anyway, and you must co-operate with the building owner/manager to ensure that the legislative requirements are maintained when you are using the building.

The new regime is based on 'fire risk assessment' as much other 'Health and Safety' legislation has been for many years. The ODPM will issue comprehensive guides on making fire risk assessment and the ODPM requirements for a wide range of buildings or activities. These should be available at the end of May or in June and can be freely down-loaded from the website http//odpm.gov.uk or printed copies bought. Each organisation will need to appoint a 'Responsible Person' and possiblely 'competent persons' to assist the Responsible Person in carrying out the risk assessment and maintaining the fire safety precautions thereafter.

The one good thing about the new regulations is that once you comply you are covered not only for fire safety under the new order but for fire matters under Health and Safety and Public Licencing legislation as well. Neither do you have to have everything done by the 1st of October - only show that you are preparing to comply.

Clearly I cannot answer questions about specific buildings/sites here, but I'll do my best to respond to general matters - but bear in mind the detail is not yet published.

Regards,
John Webb
(Member of the Institution of Fire Engineers, retired Senior Scientific Officer, Fire Research Station)
ie a 'Legal Arsonist' for 28 years!
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
As the implementation date of 1st of October approaches, I thought I'd post an update.

After my first post responsibility for fire safety was passed to the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG).

Most of the guides have been published, including the two on 'Places of Public Assembly' but the guide on 'Outdoor events and venues' is still not available. See www.firesafetyguides.communities.gov.uk for information and to obtain copies - these can be downloaded free of charge in Adobe .pdf format; or bought for £12 each in printed form.

Anyone who has had some experience of Health and Safety at Work should be comfortable with carrying out the required 'Fire Risk Assessment' (FRA) after reading the appropriate guide, particularly for a simple one or two storey building.

Do be wary of anyone claiming that 'Only they can carry out fire risk assessments.' There is already evidence that charities and others are being targeted by unscrupulous people to be ripped off, or as a means of gaining entry to a building to gain information for subsequent criminal activity. There is, regrettably, no national scheme for identifying those competent to carry out these fire risk assessments. Look for evidence of training, for example by the Fire Protection Association or BRE Ltd., or someone on the 'Register of Fire Risk Assessors' run by the Institution of Fire Engineers.
Regards,
John Webb
 
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