Kent Fire & Rescue Service
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Focus on business

Focus on business

There are approximately 67,000 active businesses in Kent and Medway, the majority of which are small or medium-sized. Only 1% of businesses have more than 100 employees. Around one-fifth of UK businesses will suffer a major disruption each year, including the threat of fire. Most businesses that experience a fire do not recover and close within 18 months.

Our Focus on Business Strategy aims to provide businesses with the guidance and support they need to start up and maintain a business safely. We also provide advice on business continuity, so that businesses can be up and running again quickly if a fire does occur.

How we work

We provide fire safety advice to new and existing businesses. We also work closely with partners to improve engagement with businesses and raise awareness about the risks. By engaging with businesses we are able to understand how we can improve the services we provide.

By working with building inspectors we also make sure new and altered buildings are constructed as safely as possible and are suitable for the people who will be using them.

We have a specialist business engagement team offering practical advice. The team runs seminars for business groups and undertakes visits to individual businesses to provide advice on a face to face basis. Our website also has a wide range of information and guidance available to support businesses in understanding what they need to do to make sure their buildings are safe.

Safe design

One of the best times to make sure people can escape safely from a building if there is a fire is when the building is being designed. We review the plans for new and altered buildings with building inspectors to make sure that the buildings will have suitable fire escape routes and will, as far as possible, be safe from fire.

Building designs and techniques are changing rapidly. We keep up-to-date with new building designs, materials and methods of construction since all these have an impact on how fires develop and behave. Our specialist staff work with architects, technical bodies and research centres to understand and, if appropriate, influence the latest developments. We then offer practical guidance to the industry and ensure our firefighters are fully trained in how to deal with fires in new types of building.

Ensuring compliance

We are part of the ‘Better Business for All’ initiative, a partnership aimed at improving relationships between regulatory bodies and businesses making access to information easier and helping to create economic growth. Whilst the approach we take is always to support businesses to make their buildings safe for their staff and customers, we also have enforcement powers for fire safety legislation. We use this formal approach very rarely and only when businesses disregard the law or there is immediate and serious risk to the lives of those using the building. When we do take enforcement action we always explain the reasons for doing so and give the responsible person the opportunity to resolve the issues we have identified.

Workforce strategy

What we plan to do next

  • Review the way our Community Safety and Technical Fire Safety teams operate to achieve integration and facilitate information-sharing for the benefit of the public
  • Provide fire safety advice during the planning and development of the London Paramount entertainment complex and other major developments such as Ebbsfleet Garden City
  • Continue to work with managers of sheltered accommodation schemes to support them in reducing risk in their premises including a reduction in the number of unwanted automatic fire alarm calls their systems produce
  • Work with our partners to support risk reduction in commercial premises e.g. waste and recycling sites
  • Update our website to increase the range of information we offer to assist businesses to keep their staff, customers and buildings safe
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