Fire Safety for Rural Firms

Shropshire firefighters mean business: left to right, Gareth Clarke, of Ludlow Fire Station; Phil Smith (Wem), Paul Dutton (Whitchurch), Ian George (Bridgnorth), Barry Plant (Market Drayton), Tony Barnes (Bishops Castle), Duncan McLoughlin, (Baschurch) and Dave Bartlett, Fire Safety Inspection Team Manager for Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service.

Fire safety in Shropshire's rural business regions has been given a major boost with the introduction of specialist community fire safety officers.

Seven new Rural Business Support Officers have been trained to go into commercial premises in the county's countryside areas and give support and advice on fire safety.

This follows a successful trial by operational firefighters in Telford, Wellington and Shrewsbury where commercial fires have been reduced.

The new fire officers will talk to managers about how to comply with the law and provide a point of contact for businesses owners and managers. "Short audit" fire inspections will be carried out to supplement high end audits carried out by specialist inspection teams.

"Fires in commercial premises are devastating to any business and the rural community. We want to reduce the number of fires," said Andy Perry, business fire safety and crime reduction group manager at Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service.

Based at fire stations in Oswestry, Market Drayton, Ludlow and Bridgnorth, the retained firefighters will target both market towns and rural areas.

Announcing the business fire safety campaign, Andy Perry, said: "It is essential that all non domestic premises carry out a suitable fire risk assessment to ensure the safety of their staff, customers and service users.

"Our new officers will be visiting all local premises to check that fire safety law is being complied with."

Firefighter Ian George gives fire advice to Richard Renton-Cooper, Manager of Baileys Wine Bar in Bridgnorth.

One of the major benefits would be to ensure that all premises have an up to date fire risk assessment which will form part of their business continuity plan for both large and small premises.

The retained rural business support officers will also be involved in local community safety prevention initiatives including arson reduction and attend business community events.

They will give information to businesses and distribute leaflets entitled "Keep your Business in Business" which gives firms sound advice on fire safety, added Mr Perry.

10th December, 2008