Published 16 September 2021

West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service in partnership with NFCC awarded £195,840 in a bid to keep businesses safer

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West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service in partnership with the National Fire Chiefs Council has been awarded £195,840 from the Regulators’ Pioneer Fund (RPF) to help keep businesses safer.

As a result of the successful bid, a ‘fire safety awareness tool’ will now be developed to help businesses carry out interactive fire risk assessments. This includes vital tips and advice to help keep premises and people safer.

The brand new virtual training tool will be developed as a collaborative partnership between NFCC and West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service. The projected date for launch is April 2022 and the tool will be hosted on NFCCs website for all fire services to use – and will be accessible to all businesses free of charge.

Once launched, NFCC wants to see businesses and fire services make use of this informative and interactive tool, helping people to further understand their legal obligations relating to fire safety and how to comply with them.

In addition, it will help to reduce the risk of business suffering a significant impact if a fire should occur. Using this new technology, NFCC wants to encourage a cultural shift in the way that businesses seek - and are provided with - fire safety advice.

The RPF is administered by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and is part of a £3 million fund for innovative projects and products.

It aims to help keep the UK at the forefront of regulatory thinking and experimentation. The fund sponsors projects led by regulators or local authorities, which aim to create a UK regulatory environment that encourages business innovation and investment.

The cost of fire to the insurance industry is £1.5billion per annum. Between 2009 – 2019, the cost of the average large loss fire was around £600,000. It’s estimated that around 60% of private businesses never recover from a fire incident. False fire alarms cost in the region of £1billion to the UK economy each year. Businesses also need to comply with a wide range of fire legislation which the tool will be able to provide help and advice on.

NFCC’s Business Safety Lead, Mark Andrews said: “I am delighted that the Regulator’s Pioneer Fund have recognised in awarding this grant just what a real difference this new virtual training tool will make to both businesses and residents across the country.

“This is a fantastic joint project that will draw on expertise across the sector to create something that is not just free and easy to use, but informative and helps businesses to understand their legal obligations and how to comply with them, while reducing the risk of suffering a significant impact from fire.

“Using new technology, we intend to encourage a cultural shift in the way that businesses seek, and are provided with, fire safety advice.”

Business Minister Lord Callanan said: “Good regulation should spur entrepreneurship, not stand in its way, and this project will help keep the UK at the cutting-edge of innovation.

“The business safety training tool could pave the way for exciting developments in the sector, bringing benefits to British businesses and consumers alike.”

NFCC is committed to keeping businesses safe and runs an annual national campaign to highlight risks and responsibilities for owners. This campaign helps to ensure businesses are complying with fire safety law, while highlighting what help is available from their local fire and rescue service.

 Fire and rescue services can evidence the positive impact that education and advice had made to businesses. This new tool should modernise how advise is delivered to businesses.