Fire Safety Order - the largest fine to date!
1st October 2009
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The recent prosecution of Shell International Ltd in June by London Fire Brigade resulted in a fine of £300,000 with costs of £45,000.  This is the largest fine awarded so far under the Fire Safety Order 2005 and it came about after the company suffered two small fires in the space of three weeks at their UK headquarters, the Shell Centre, a twenty-five storey office building in London.


London Fire Brigade attended the building to deal with the fires in January 2007 but were concerned to find severe deficiencies in fire safety such as blocked fire exit routes, defective fire doors and excessive fire loading.  The deficiencies were considered so severe that a prohibition notice was immediately served on Shell and enforced for three days by the brigade until sufficient improvements had been made to make the building safe enough to allow staff and members of the public to return.

Fire risk assessment

Fire inspectors also found that the building’s fire risk assessment had not been reviewed or updated since 2003 and that some of the failings identified in the 2003 assessment were still in existence in 2007.  Notwithstanding this fact the fire inspectors concluded that the fire safety had deteriorated in the intervening period.

Putting their staff at risk

London Fire Brigade’s Assistant Commissioner Steve Turek said “Shell failed to respond properly to their fire risk assessment for three and a half years and had it not been for the fires which led to the inspection, it could have been considerably longer.  Had Shell acted upon the findings of the 2003 risk assessment at the time, they would have avoided putting their staff at risk”.

Expelling the myth

This prosecution expels the myth that our biggest companies are exempt from prosecution on grounds of fire safety and that ignoring regulations is not an option for any company.  All commercial and industrial buildings such as factories, offices, shops, clubs, hotels, care homes etc. are required to carry out a ‘suitable and sufficient’ fire risk assessment and to regularly review it.  They must also act on its significant findings so that the risk to staff and anyone who uses the building is reduced to an acceptable level.  This is so that if a fire occurs, everyone can safely and easily make their escape to a place of safety.

Make sure that you are not caught out, a £345,000 fine for your business may just take all the cream off that bottom line of business profits!

For further information or guidance on the New Fire Regulations contact Jim Baker (Fire Safety Consultant) at Allan Baker Associates, Hinckley, Leicestershire on 01455 881 050.


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