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Press Release - Fire risk assessor found guilty of inadequate assessment
Posted on 25/03/2015

A private fire risk assessor has been found guilty of failing to provide an adequate risk assessment to a large Newton Abbot restaurant.

Mr Craig Richard Stonelake was prosecuted by Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service under Sections 9 and 17 of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

Appearing at Torquay Magistrates today (25 March), Mr Stonelake had pleaded guilty was ordered to pay a total in fines and costs of £7,383.

The risk assessment Mr Stonelake had been employed to carry out was found to be unsuitable, not taking into account the sleeping risk, the inadequate means of escape, lack of suitable fire doors, inadequate fire alarm system, and inadequate firefighting equipment.

Mr Stonelake also serviced the firefighting equipment at the premises when not qualified or trained to do so and failed to service the equipment to any appropriate standard. Failing in his duty to undertake this work to an appropriate standard placed people using the premises at the risk of death or serious injury in the event of a fire occurring.

Station Manager Glen Wells said: “Anyone offering professional services to a premises, a business or a person has a responsibility and a duty of care to that business or person.

“This responsibility is at its highest and most fundamental when that work has the potential to affect the health and safety of people or employees at that premises. In the case of fire risk assessments and the servicing of emergency equipment, failures may unnecessarily expose people to the risk of death or serious injury in the event of a fire occurring.

“Where that person, with a duty of care, has failed and should reasonably have known that they did not have the requisite training, qualifications or experience for that work compounds that failure. Sadly it would appear that this particular case is not an isolated one.

“It would appear that there is a minority of people purporting to be bona fide fire risk assessors offering their services, for payment, to businesses that are unclear about the requirements of the FSO. To fail in this service provision has the potential for devastating consequences.

“It needs to be made very clear to anybody that is considering working or works in the provision of fire risk assessments and or the servicing of fire safety equipment such as fire extinguishers the seriousness of this undertaking and the need complete the work to a satisfactory standard.”

Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service will be providing an event whereby guidance will be provided to fire risk assessors or to people considering starting in that line of work.

The day will include covering the expectations placed upon fire risk assessors and the auditing of those assessments. The event is planned for Friday 5 June 2015. Anybody wanting to register interest or a place should email and leave their details.

Further information

Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service has a Strategic Principle that is to work with people, communities, businesses and partners to make Devon and Somerset a safer place to live work and visit. This is in part achieved by ensuring that premises in Devon and Somerset are safe in the event of a fire occurring. The Service has a duty to enforce the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (FSO) within its boundaries.

This is achieved in a number of ways including by supporting businesses, providing information and inspecting premises. There are occasions when it is necessary to take legal action against those responsible for serious fire safety deficiencies or deliberately putting people at risk of death or serious injury from fire.

A legal requirement of the FSO and a core principle to ensuring that premises are safe in the event of a fire occurring is to have a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment for the premises. The person responsible for the premises must ensure that it is completed up to date and available on request. The person responsible for the premises has a choice as to whether they undertake the work themselves using guidebooks that are free to download. Alternatively they may choose to employ the services of a competent fire risk assessor to undertake the work.

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