Post mortem: has the fire precautions act cost more lives than it has saved?(Fire Safety Law)

In the last 25 years, 17,000 British citizens have died in house fires whilst only 1,800 died in other buildings. Until recently, fire safety efforts were directed principally at reducing deaths in places of work. Has the focus on places of work, principally through the soon to be superseded Fire Precautions Act 1971, served only to distract the UK Fire Service for more than 30 years from its raison d'etre--the saving of lives in society as a whole?

It is widely acknowledged that The Fire Precautions Act (FPA) 1971, and its predecessors, the Factories Act (FA), 1961 and Offices, Shops and Railway Premises Act, (OSRA) 1963, have improved the safety of people at work. Proof of the effectiveness is evident in the consistently low number of fatalities in workplaces. Collateral benefits include the limiting of fire damage due to early warning and structural fire protection.

However, the supporting processes and mechanisms to ensuring this security has evolved into a bureaucracy that often uses over 80 per cent of a brigade's fire safety capacity. Given the impact that non-statutory community fire safety initiatives appear to have had over the last decade or so, it could be argued that by distracting effort from the prevention of dwelling fires, the FPA has, indirectly led to a greater number of deaths than it has saved. …

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