Press and media: also see our Press Office page
The Campaign's 10 Downing Street Petition has, in just three months before it closed on 31st December, been personally signed by 1,455 individuals, making it better supported than over 98.5% of all the many thousands of petitions on every subject, on the 10 Downing Street website.
Scotland: £100 million reduction in cost burden promised|
as "relaxed" Guidance is put out for consultation
24 November 2009
New fire safety guidance is set to reduce the financial and administrative burden on Scotland's estimated 7,000 bed and breakfast and self catering businesses by an average of £14,286 each - a total reduction in the cost burden on small accommodation businesses in Scotland of £100 million, on the Scottish Government's own figures.
The Fire Safety SENSE Campaign had highlighted concerns that previous fire safety requirements were complex and prohibitively expensive. The new guidance has been developed by the Scottish Government to "directly address these concerns" and will "maintain fire safety levels while reducing the average investment in safety equipment by over 90 per cent".
The new guidance will also ensure that all fire safety requirements are now applied "consistently as well as proportionately to the size of property".
Scottish Minister for Community Safety Fergus Ewing urged the tourism sector to support the proposals:
"The Scottish Government has listened at length to business owners' concerns and proposed a solution that reduces red tape and reduces cost while ensuring their paying guests are safe from the ever-present risk of fire."
An independent analysis compared the average cost of compliance under the new guidance at £1,090 per B&B, compared with £15,376 under the previous guidance - a reduction of over £14,000 per B&B in the estimated cost of compliance.
The public consultation ends February 4, 2010.
Fire Safety SENSE Campaign head David Weston commented: "I am delighted that the Scottish Government has been so responsive to the concerns our Campaign has highlighted. The average compliance cost for each B&B before the new guidance was £15,376, a crippling cost for very small home-based family businesses. We welcome the Scottish Government's seeing sense and cutting this unnecessary £100 million burden."
For more detail, see our Scotland page.
CFOA call together Fire Authorities to enforce new guidance
21 October 2009
A B&B owner in County Durham was told by his fire officer in reference to 'Do You Take Paying Guests?' (the official Government guidance for small B&Bs produced partly as a result of this Campaign) that "we don't work to that in County Durham".
The owner reported this to the Bed & Breakfast Association, whose Chief Executive David Weston wrote to Iain Cox of the Chief Fire Officers' Association (CFOA). The Association asked the CFOA
"when the Government have issued new official guidance backed by a circular - and some FRAs (eg Suffolk) are abiding by it - how can others like County Durham simply ignore it and state that "we don't work to that in County Durham"?
It is very important that the RRFSO, Government guidance, and the Enforcement Concordat are followed by all FRAs, as I am sure you will agree. Could you advise me as to what action CFOA will now take as far as County Durham is concerned?"
Mr Cox of the CFOA replied "I can report that I did raise the issue with the Fire and Rescue Service concerned at a very senior level. From my conversations with these officers it is clear that this was not a policy matter but rather it was an interpretation of policy by the Enforcing Officer.
On the 21 October 2009, in West Midlands, Neil Gibbons (who is now the Chair of the National Fire Safety Committee) and I have organised a seminar for the Senior Fire Safety Policy Officers of the English and Welsh Fire and Rescue Services. We will be discussing many issues, however chief amongst them will be the issues of consistency, proportionality and the status of guidance. Amongst the guidance that we will be discussing, “Do you take Paying Guests” will feature prominently. The aim of this Seminar is to gather those responsible for policy making for the Fire Service in one room. I am pleased to report that we have nearly all of the Fire and Rescue Services in England and Wales attending.
Some Encouraging Signs of More Proportionate Enforcement
as "Do You Have Paying Guests?" Guidance is Absorbed by Fire Authorities
9 February 2009; for detail go to our Latest Guidance page
There are some encouraging signs that the latest Government guidance for small accommodation providers is beginning to change enforcement practice by Fire Authorities.
The latest guidance was produced with the involvement of the Bed and Breakfast Association and other industry bodies, and was finally issued officially by the Government on 18 November 2008, backed up by an official Government Circular (number 60-2008) to the Fire and Rescue Authorities.
The Fire Safety Minister certainly intends local enforcement to change. The Minister, referring to the new guidance booklet ("Do You Have Paying Guests?"), said: "The booklet has, through CFOA [Chief Fire Officers' Association] involvement, the support of the Chief Fire Officers throughout England. It is our belief that this booklet will help embed a practical, common sense approach to the enforcement of the [RRFSO regulations] by Fire and Rescue Authorities".
After the involvement of the industry bodies behind this Campaign in its drafting, "Do You Have Paying Guests?" is much more helpful to owners of B&Bs and other small premises than previous official Government guidance.
And now we have heard of instances where Fire & Rescue Authorities are making the changes in their enforcement which the Government requires - for instance, Suffolk Fire & Rescue Service wrote to a B&B owner last month (January 2009) stating: "The fire safety guidance for small accommodation providers has recently been reviewed and a new guidance document was issued on 18th November 2008 titled 'Do You Have Paying Guests?'...
The impact of this new guidance has let to a review of existing [Enforcement] notices issued under the previous guidance to such premises. In the light of the work [the Suffolk B&B concerned had] already carried out coupled with the reduced standard in the new guidance it is felt that there remains minor deficiencies such that your management approach reduces the risk to a level that does not require any further action from this authority.
The existing [Enforcement] notice is to be withdrawn and replaced by a deficiencies notice that can be managed by [the B&B owner], in line with the new government guidance."
The Campaign hopes that this and other such recent examples mark a real shift in the way the RRFSO is being Enforced in England - if so, the work done by the organisations behind the Fire Safety SENSE Campaign will have achieved a genuine reduction in the disproportionate burden of enforcement seen in the first two years of enforcement.
David Weston, Chief Executive of the Bed and Breakfast Association and Campaign Co-ordinator of the Fire Safety SENSE Campaign, commented: "The Fire Safety Minister's department have assured us that they want to see the new guidance for small B&Bs, which was produced with our involvement, lead to a change of approach using common-sence principles.
It does now seem that one or two instances of a real change of enforcement by local fire authorities may be the first signs of a real change of enforcement of the regulations.
We welcome these initial signs of a change of approach after the first two years.
Perhaps now we will start to see sensible, proportionate enforcement nationwide based on the real risks posed by very small premises.
We will continue to monitor the national picture very closely."
For details, go to our Latest Guidance page.
Scottish Government tells Fire Authorities to hold off enforcement action on small B&Bs
- new guidance will be issued in Scotland after consultation with the tourism industry
4 January 2009
In Scotland, enforcement action against small B&Bs has been put on hold by the Scottish Government, which admitted that enforcement action has resulted in "expensive and unnecessary fire safety measures being put in place which are not proportionate to the risks".
Following many representations made (including by Alan Keith, Co-ordinator of the Fire Safety SENSE Campaign Scotland) to Fergus Ewing MSP, the Scottish Community Safety Minister and other MSPs,
the Head of the Scottish Government's Fire and Rescue Advisory Unit, Brian Fraser, has issued a letter dated 19th December 2008 to the Chief Fire Officers of all Fire & Rescue Authorities in Scotland.
The letter notes that "concerns have been raised with Ministers about the enforcement of
fire safety for small bed and breakfast accommodation providers. The concerns raised
suggest that the guidance on which compliance and enforcement is based may be resulting
in expensive and unnecessary fire safety measures being put in place which are not
proportionate to the risks."
The letter informs Chief Fire Officers that "At the recent Ministerial Advisory Group meeting, chaired by Mr Ewing and including
representatives of fire board conveners and Chief Officers, it was agreed that guidance for
this sector would be withdrawn. It was further agreed that a working group, including tourism
industry representatives, will be convened to produce new guidance, which will be subject to
Scottish Fire & Rescue Authorities are told that "To avoid conflict with the revised guidance, which shall be issued as soon as
practicable, enforcement officers should no longer rely on the benchmarks in the small guide
as being appropriate for small bed and breakfast type establishments. It is therefore
recommended that fire and rescue services reschedule their routine audit and enforcement
activity in this sector until such time as the revised guidance is available. However, cases
where serious risk is discovered should still be acted upon."
Galloway & Upper Nithsdale MSP Alex Fergusson welcomed the Scottish Government U-turn. He said: "This is a fantastic Christmas present for the 130 plus B&B operators in my constituency who provide the bedrock of our tourist industry and who were being hounded by the powers that be to such an extent that many would have closed their doors had ministers not seen sense. That they did so was testament to the cross-party group of MSPs and their constituents who prevailed upon the Government to look again at this issue.
It is good to know sanity can prevail and I do give Ministers credit for admitting they had got it wrong. The new guidance must be proportionate and fair. The last ones were neither and good riddance to them."
The letter can be read in full by
(pdf document, 1p, 73kb)
Relief as B&B fire rules put on hold - The Galloway Gazette.
English B&Bs hit by tougher fire rules - The Scotsman.
Minister meets Campaign - and calls for more evidence on business closures |
16 December 2008
The new Fire Safety Minister, Sadiq Khan MP, met representatives of the organisations supporting the Campaign today (16th December 2009), after the Campaign's request of 8th October (see below). The Minister asked for more evidence of the closure of premises as a result of the "RRFSO", and emphasised his concern to balance fire safety with the importance of not placing additional unnecessary burdens on very small businesses, particularly at this very difficult time.
If your premises, or those of anyone you know, have closed or are facing closure as a result of the enforcement of the 2006 Fire Regulations (RRFSO), contact us at campaign@FireSafetySENSE.com
460,000 businesses behind the Campaign |
31 October 2008
By the close of the month in which the Campaign started, organisations representing over 460,000 small businesses now support the Campaign.
Shadow Fire Safety Minister supports the |
Fire Safety SENSE Campaign
15 October 2008
"In difficult economic times, the government should do all it can to reduce bureaucracy for businesses and therefore it needs urgently to review the implementation of the Fire Safety Order to ensure that it is risk-based, fair, proportionate and focused on the balance between public safety and common sense."
Stewart Jackson MP
Shadow Fire Services Minister
New Fire Safety Minister appointed; Campaign requests a constructive meeting|
8 October 2008
On the 5th October, Prime Minister Gordon Brown appointed a new Fire Safety Minister: Sadiq Khan MP replaced Parmjit Dhanda MP. (Mr Dhanda has left the Government.)
The Campaign wrote to the new Minister on 8th October to congratulate him on his appointment, to brief him about the campaign, and "to request, on behalf of the Campaign's Steering Group, an early meeting with you and your officials, to see if a practical and workable solution can be found to this very pressing problem before the situation gets even worse. We are as always ready to take a constructive part in finding a solution."
Shadow Tourism Minister Supports the 'Fire Safety SENSE' Campaign|
7 October 2008
"The UK tourist industry is burdened with a plethora of regulatory and financial measures which hinder rather than help the thousands of smaller and medium sized businesses that were promised support by this Government.
"Conservatives support this excellent campaign, Fire Safety SENSE, and want to see greater scrutiny of policy proposals by the Tourism Minister in areas that affect the British tourist industry."
Tobias Ellwood MP
Shadow Tourism Minister
Launch of the "Fire Safety SENSE" Campaign|
3 October 2008
A new UK-wide cross-industry campaign launches today under the "Fire Safety SENSE" banner.
The campaign aims to highlight the inconsistent and often disproportionately onerous enforcement of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (the "RRFSO"), which threatens many thousands of small home-based ventures with closure or unviability.
10 Downing Street Petition launched by the "Fire Safety SENSE" Campaign|
Wednesday 1st October 2008
The new Fire Safety SENSE Campaign today opened a national online 10 Downing Street Petition, on the second anniversary of the implementation of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order ("RRFSO").
The petition calls on the the Prime Minister to:
"Act to ensure that the 2006 Fire Regulations ("RRFSO") are enforced proportionately and consistently without onerous burdens on very small premises not justified by the actual risk".
The e-Petition can be signed online at: http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/FireSafetySENSE/