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Fire Regulations Remain an Unknown in Post-Brexit UK

UK voters approved a resolution to leave the European Union way back in 2016. More than three years later, Parliament and the Government cannot figure out a way to make Brexit happen. This has caused a lot of uncertainty across the board. Everything from banking to food sources will be affected when the inevitable finally happens. Even fire regulations are up for grabs.

EU regulations have a lot to say about fire prevention. For example, the European Construction Products Regulation lays out standards for a number of fire protection products, construction materials, and fire suppression systems. No one knows if post-Brexit regulations in the UK will continue to mirror EU rules or go in another direction. In essence, fire regulations remain unknown in a post-Brexit UK.

Regulations Will Still Exist

There are four things we know about fire regulations for certain, regardless of what happens with Brexit. Let us assume the UK eventually leaves the European Union as planned. The first thing we know for certain is that regulations will still exist. We may not know what form they will take, but to believe that all fire regulations will suddenly vanish is foolish.

Just over a decade ago, there were more than 150 different fire-related laws on the books. Most of them were brought together by the EU in 2006. It is highly unlikely that the British government will abandon what currently exists. Perhaps some regulations will be modified or done away with, but most are likely to remain intact.

Take the Fire Risk Assessment Guidance 2019 as an example. Parts of that guidance may not be necessary for a post-Brexit UK. But it is a safe bet that most of the guidance will remain in force. Why wouldn't it? It already works quite well.

Enforcement Will Be Just a Stringent

If there's one thing we've learned from a number of prominent fires in recent years it is the fact that enforcement can never be slackened. UK property owners can rest assured that post-Brexit regulations will be enforced just as stringently as the current regulations - no matter what form they take.

There is a possibility that enforcement might become even more strict in future years. There is genuine concern among fire officials in the UK that regulations are not strong enough. Perhaps we are in line for a reworking of those regulations to make them more comprehensive and more aligned with modern technologies and standards.

Property Owners Will Still Be Fined

One of the greatest deterrents to flouting fire regulations is a Fire Service investigation that leads to fines. Some of the fines we have seen in the past have been quite significant. Even a relatively minor fire that results in no injuries or deaths can result in hundreds of thousands of pounds in fines.

Do not expect that to cease after Brexit. Again, fines might even become more punitive in the future. Remember that the UK has always been on the cutting edge of fire regulations in Europe. The UK was very instrumental in helping to craft current EU regulations. It is not likely things will change all that much. It is even less likely that fines will either cease or be reduced.

Guilty Parties Will Still Be Prosecuted

The flip side of heavy fines is criminal prosecutions. Regardless of what happens with Brexit, there is almost no chance of the government eliminating criminal prosecutions following deadly fires for which some sort of criminal negligence can be proved.

Prosecutions are an effective way to deal with individuals who are not deterred by heavy fines. Those found guilty of wrongdoing will still be made to pay the price for their actions. You can bet the Fire Service will be as diligent as ever in proving criminal actions that lead to fires. How many of those prosecutions end successfully remains to be seen.

Your Responsibilities as a Property Owner

There is a lot about Brexit that causes us to wonder about the future of the UK. As discussed here, we do not know the future of fire regulations in a post-Brexit world. But we do know enough to understand that the government will not suddenly throw up its hands and let property owners do whatever they want. Fire safety will continue to be a top priority.

As a property owner, you have certain legal obligations. Do you know what they are? Is your property compliant? These are questions you need to be able to answer whenever asked. You should be able to demonstrate that your property complies with all fire regulations at all times.

As long as human beings roam the earth, there will be a risk of a devastating fire. That will not change due to any political action taken by government leaders. So in the end, fire prevention really is up to all of us. It doesn't really matter what happens with Brexit in the sense that we all have an obligation to contribute to preventing fires.

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