Fire Safety22 Jan 2020
We were right to predict a significant review of fire safety law post Grenfell and the Government accepted the findings of the subsequent Hackitt Reforms Report covered in our March update. We were over optimistic regarding the progress that might be made and as yet there is no sign of any changes to legislation any time soon. It remains our view that the events industry still does not have sufficient traction with this issue in terms of shaping any proposed legislation and it is worth restating the potential issues. The events industry now has reasonably good engagement with the HSE so can influence, to a certain extent, the application of new or revised legislation as we did with CDM 2015. The problem is that fire safety is a Home Office issue and the Fire Service and other public bodies will be dominant in shaping new requirements and may not properly consider the needs of the whole of the events industry. Sports stadia, theatres and similar fixed seat spectator/auditoria settings are reasonably well connected via the SGSA and ABBT respectively.
It is foreseeable, however, that the more dynamic high foot fall events such as exhibitions and indoor B2C events may be overlooked and could find themselves having to cope with a more expensive and restrictive fire safety regime. A major potential issue is who, at events, will be the arbiters of what ‘fire safety compliance’ looks like. At present the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order places that responsibility on the business to conduct a competent fire risk assessment and then implement it. Outside the regulatory regimes applicable at sports grounds there is very little official oversight. This mostly works well but the Grenfell fire has promoted the acceptance of a narrative that more regulatory control is required. This will either mean a local authority inspector required to pass judgement on whether an event is safe to open or the raising of the bar as to what constitutes competence when it comes to the ability to conduct a fire risk assessment. The event industry needs to push for the ability to continue to selfregulate as it more or less currently does.