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A journalist with 13 years of experience on trade publications covering construction, local government, property, pubs, and transport.
August 29, 2017

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Fire safety

Drastic cut in fire safety inspectors, investigation claims

There has been a drastic reduction in the number of fire safety inspectors in the last six years, according to an investigation by a national newspaper.

The study revealed the number of specialist officers in 26 fire services had fallen from 924 to 680 – more than a quarter – between 2011 and 2017.

The Guardian revealed the figures following a series of Freedom of Information Act requests on staff numbers at fire services across England. It received feedback from 31 of the 45 services it had asked for information.

It follows a five year funding cut across the service, which has resulted in a 17% reduction in spending.

The worst hit services are in Gloucestershire, Cumbria, Avon, County Durham and Darlington, where staff have been cut by more than half, according to the Guardian.


Audits are also down from 84,575 in 2011 to 63,201 in 2015-2016.

The issue is particularly sensitive following the Grenfell Tower disaster, and the associated risk to other similar buildings.

Safety inspectors carry out inspections on such high-risk structures, to ensure they meet health and safety legislation, including the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004 and the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

They can also close, prohibit or restrict the use of unsafe buildings, and issue legal notices which enforce compliance with current fire safety legislation. Failure to comply with a notice is an ordinarily a criminal offence.

Soft touch

David Sibert of the Fire Brigades Union told the paper that the figures revealed a ‘very soft-touch’ and ‘business-friendly’ approach.

He said safety legislation should be enforced ‘on behalf of the people who live and work in these buildings, not on behalf of those who are making money out of them’.

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