Well done to Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service for pursuing this course of action. Unfortunately, they are very much an outlier in the world of FSO enforcement and success is very much down to their persistence.

The FSO appears, like the FPA 1971, to have structural barriers to effective and consistent enforcement. These include underfunding of fire safety departments who are unable in most cases able to develop the legal and investigative skills in many officers to enable a level of prosecutions that makes potential transgressors think before taking actions which threaten the safety of staff or members of the public.

There is also the issue of size in fire safety departments – massive cuts in numbers have meant that only services of a particular size can afford to dedicate officers to specialise and also have a budget for prosecutions .

The culture of “educate, encourage and enforce” espoused by many FRSs over the decade has been a pragmatic solution to the lack of capacity and capability for wider enforcement practice on a more appropriate scale. As a result, less scrupulous “(ir)responsible persons” have taken advantage. The only surprising thing is that the number of lives lost in some of these buildings has been so low.

You can find out more about this story on the Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service website.

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