Page 13 - HOT NEWS JUNE 2014
P. 13
As part of a recent restructure, our Service has formed a central team to work exclusively on planning and building regulations consultations.
The Planning and Buildings Regulations Team, which is based at headquarters, deals with detailed plan submissions of all new building regulations applications sent to the Service by the Local Authority Building Control and approved building inspectors.
These submissions range from simple internal alterations, material change of use and more complex submissions that use fire engineering approaches.
The team aims to ensure all building work carried out in the Merseyside area is fully compliant with the various building codes and fire legislation prior to any work being completed.
Community Protection Officers on the Protection team carry out fire safety audits of buildings across Merseyside to ensure they meet fire safety standards.
This is part of the role of Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service as the enforcing authority for the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
The officers each conduct around eight audits a month at different premises, many of which are sites such as high rise flats, care homes, nursing homes and business premises.
Watch Manager Dave Martin is one of the officers who carry out those audits, which can take between two to four hours to complete.
He said: “You usually get a feel for a place as soon as you walk in and have an idea of what you might find.”
During the visit, the Community Protection Officer will audit the
relevant fire safety paperwork of the site and ask staff a series
of questions. They check that standards are met in areas such
as fire risk assessment, training records, electrical
safety, gas safety, fire alarm testing,
Ian Hughes, fire engineer on the Planning and Buildings Regulations Team, said: “This helps to create a safe built environment from concept to completion.”
The team also deals with all planning applications throughout the Merseyside area. This ensures that all new developments are built to allow the best access and facilities for firefighters, which is fundamental to the Service’s core values.
Ian added: “The centralisation of this process has allowed for a consistent process from start to finish.”
emergency lighting, emergency plans, personal emergency evacuation plans and portable appliance testing (PAT).
The officer will then carry
out a thorough inspection
of the site and offer expert
advice on where any
improvements could be
made. Among the things
they look at are access
routes to emergency exits to ensure they are clear of combustible materials, checking fire doors are properly installed and ensuring the layout of the premises adheres to fire safety regulations. They also offer advice on materials that should be used, such as fire retardant material on bedding and soft furnishings.
The aim of the Protection team is to work with owners or managers of premises to help them meet the required standards. They will give the site owners time to carry out any necessary changes and return to check that those improvements have been made. However, officers, after consultation with principal managers, do have the authority to issue a Prohibition Notice at premises where they believe there is a risk of serious injury or death in the event of fire.
High risk premises are audited every year or every two years and medium risk premises are audited every three years.
A 10 % sample of low risk premises is audited over a five-year
Photos: Lyndsay Young.
Watch Manager Dave Martin carrying out a fire safety audit.

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