Fewer safety visits to Berkshire businesses are being carried out by the fire service as part of a new approach to tackling the issue.
Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service (RBFRS) is now focusing on carrying out unannounced safety inspections at businesses deemed to be at higher risk.
It was agreed by RBFRS’s Fire Authority last month and has now come into effect, in a bid to save costs on unnecessary inspections.
RBFRS is now intending to carry out 1,400 full fire safety audits per year, in comparison to 1,800 last year.
Group manager Chris Bunyan said: “We carried out 1,800 visits last year but, in 76 per cent of the audits carried out, business owners were, with ongoing support from us, making their buildings a safe working environment for their staff.
“From our perspective, the buildings were safe enough, so it was agreed that this may be creating an unnecessary burden on businesses and our staff could work more effectively by doing fewer but more focused visits.
“A more targeted approach on the remaining 24 per cent of businesses that are more likely to need improvements would result in more work for fire safety officers, hence why fewer audits are likely to be completed.
“Complying with the law is not optional because failing to comply could cost lives.”
The inspections are risk-based, meaning higher risk buildings such as those where people sleep or where people are unfamiliar with the premises receive audits more frequently.
Businesses where the fire service believes standards are good will receive audits less often.
During the audits, inspectors make sure that businesses are compliant with all the fire safety regulations that apply to them.
The regulations apply to virtually all properties apart from private homes.