House of Multiple Occupation (HMO) & Fire Safety

Data from the Department for Communities and Local Government show an increase in the number of commercial premises found to be satisfactory during audits by fire and rescue services across England with 59% of building deemed satisfactory during 2011-12 an increase of 3% for the period 2010-2011.

Fire and rescue services focused their audits on premises deemed to be high risk which included care homes, hotels, hospitals, educational establishments and Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO).

No prizes for guessing which high risk group came bottom of the pile; you’ve guessed it Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO).  Of all Houses in Multiple Occupation inspected only 42% HMO resulted in a satisfactory audit inspection.

Commenting on the report, Graham Ellicott, chief executive officer of the Fire Industry Association, said: “The FIA welcomes the reported increase in satisfactory fire safety audits but cautions against complacency. In addition, the definition of satisfactory varies markedly between different fire and rescue services.

“For example some will ‘mark’ even minor failures as unsatisfactory whereas others in the same situation will offer guidance and advice and if this rectifies problems then no further action is taken.

“Thus it can be difficult to compare the figures between the fire and rescue services and a more appropriate comparison is year on year for the same fire and rescue service.”

A ‘suitable and sufficient’ fire risk assessment must be carried out on all commercial properties in England and Wales under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

The Responsible Person can face an unlimited fine or a prison sentence of up to two years if they fail to comply with the legislation.

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